By Pierre Rault, Service Designer, Schoolab Asia –
Innovation studio Schoolab Asia is sharing the voices of its stakeholders on sustainability, partnerships and impact in Vietnam on the Sustainable Vietnam platform. Pierre Rault, Service Designer, talks the significance of bringing thoughtfulness and feelings of responsibility around sustainability when integrating it into the innovation and design process. He puts it quite simply, “…there is no Tinder designed for people to be matched with new planets”, and that is why we need to take care of the planet we have right now.
Technology and the free market economy have given human civilization so much wealth, safety and comfort that there is no going back. Yet, pivoting to more a thoughtful approach is is no longer a choice but a necessity. As a designer I feel that I have a part to play in this.
Cocktail of Feelings
There are many ways to define sustainability and under its wings lies many sub-categories such as: climate change, circularity, gender equality, inclusion, resilience… However for me, sustainability is foremost a cocktail of feelings.
The feelings of responsibility is ever present – to make changes now that will guarantee a better outcome in the future.
That is one of the key traits in being a ‘designer’ in innovation. We can be part of the problem or part of the solution.
For the last 20 years and the emergence of digital technologies, designers have been focusing on understanding the efforts and struggles of people in order to help them by delivering as much convenience as possible. This competition towards convenience has not often put social and environmental in the front seat and we now have the opportunity to do so.
By embracing our humanity and our feeling of responsibility.
What Can Designers Do?
Some months ago I participated in a design workshop named “What’s Beyond Human-Centricity?” and the discussion on how the profession can evolve in the future essentially went in two different directions.
One was about human-tech centricity and the other was about planet-centricity. The second focus invited a lot of conversation on how we could (and should) integrate the planet as a core element of the design process, to then ensure that every new product and service is implemented in the way that gives back as much as it takes.
From this workshop was born a desire within me to test the concept and I have nowadays the opportunity to apply that vision within the Schoolab design process.
To this day it is still experimental and we are operating the first iteration of it.
Sharing the Design Process
But this additionality to the design process feels more meaningful to me. And even more so when I meet with Vietnamese companies who are really getting onboard with it.
I was given the opportunity to follow my own sustainability beliefs by proactively taking the development of Schoolab’s business to the mobility sector in Ho Chi Minh City. I truly believe that there is a vital need for its commuters to pivot from an unsustainable model made of 9 million personal motorbikes and cars and to start designing a smarter mobility model relying on shared transportation infrastructures, well designed services and a new transportation culture.
I have also the incredible privilege of being able to share my experience as a designer with groups of students in order for them to tackle sustainability challenges in Vietnam. And I hope in turn they share the designer process and thoughtfulness to others around them.
Challenge the Design
Overall, the challenge we set for ourselves through sustainability is probably the most difficult we humans have ever faced.
Changing our mindset from wanting more to wanting less is a giant stretch. Yes, we can all agree that we have reached a cap. However, it is not about going back or regressing but working towards a leap in equality with our planet.
That is the design challenge I want to work on.
Bringing the various actors to work on solutions that incorporate a thoughtfulness to the design process that includes social and environmental. That the leap in equality includes all of this.
Like David Attenborough shared in his life testimony: “We have to go from being apart of nature to being a part of nature”. Because the divorce between Earth and Humans is simply not a possibility.,
And as smart as a designer might be, there is no Tinder designed for people to be matched with new planets.
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