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Influx interview-design series- stiven kerestegian- sustainable designer

May 23, 2008

Stiven Kerestegian is a sustainable designer who lives in the South of Chile where he is involved in several projects most of them related to sustainable design. He’s also a partner in a full service production and design studio in Santiago and a sustainable product company Essustainable.

1. Briefly describe your background?

My background is in industrial design but I have worked in almost every related field from hardware design for Microsoft to conceptual or “innovation” design for Kodak to brand, packaging and web UI design for startups. Today, the projects I take on are as diverse as the market but more and more, clients reach out to me because they have an interest  in sustainable or “green” design.

2. Sustainable Design is a current buzzword, how do you interpret it?

The concept has been around for a while. Victor Papanek and Bucky Fuller were among the first to start pushing for more responsible solutions to our everyday needs not because they were hard core environmentalist but because they realized that sustainable design, or design that uses nature as the developmental model is far superior especially as you look at long term solutions. Today I consider sustainable design that which incorporates social and environmental aspects holistically into the design process. The inclusion of these variables triggers unforeseeable innovations and cost savings.

Two key things are happening today that have triggered the green or sustainability movement, corporations are seeing value in more sustainable approaches and informed consumers are demanding more responsible products

3. How difficult is it for designers to think about sustainability? How do they know their actions are going to produce positive results?

The difficult part is getting informed you know, not only being on top of all the latest materials and processes etc., but  considering a products complete life cycle into your design process is an essential aspect of sustainable design so this means more research in related areas beyond just form, function and experience. The great part is that it brings much more meaning to what we do as designers because we can measure results beyond just financial success, we can see social and environmental contributions.

4. Shouldn’t we be producing better products that last longer or even encourage people to get more use out of old things, rather than producing new stuff all the time?

Yes, having fewer but better things would help but the problem we have today is not just that we are making and using too many unnecessary products, it’s that we are making and using them in ways that are destructive to us and our environment. I don’t think we have to stop being consumers, we just need to implement more sustainable models like the service model. The fun part is that we as designers get to redesign everything, we get to re-think the way we do most things and this needs to happen now, in our generation.

5. Consumers are addicted to the shiny and new, it’s part of the thrill of consumption. How could we encourage consumers to think about this and should we?

I think that slowly but surely we are all starting to realize that good design is inherently “sustainable” and corporations and consumers will evolve their understanding of what is good design and what is desirable. The only reason why we need to consume less is because most of our consumption is unhealthy but if we can design and manufacture healthy products that are beneficial to us and our environment, then there would be a reason to encourage consumption.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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