While there is still a huge investment gap today, there is good momentum happening now!

Simon Widmer

Interview with Simon Widmer, Creative Lead at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and member of the Design Network.

Simon believes in the power of design to create better products and services; following his passion, Simon has co-created the Circular Design Program, empowering designers, innovators and creators with tools for collaboration opportunities.

How can companies be more involved in Circular Economy (CE) ?
We see a lot of momentum happening across businesses and governments globally, that see CE as an opportunity (Switzerland is in very good company when it comes to that transition). Finance is of course an important element in this evolution. While there is still a huge investment gap today, there is good momentum happening now; two years ago, literally no money flowed into this and now we see a strong increase in public equity funds. This will help companies create great solutions. CE helps to redesign products and services.

Why the design stage matters ?
It is not so much about esthetic design but much more about design stages. It is important because it includes people from all disciplines (engineers, innovators, designers, new business model developers), who all decide how a product will be brought to the consumers. A lot of those decisions will interact later with the material flows that will happen for production in the years to come. So at the design stage it is important to consider CE principles.

CE suggests a fundamentally different approach to the design stage of all products, services and systems around us.

How can we redesign products and services for CE?
There is no one-size fits all, but pioneers in this domain are doing all the following things. They address the users’ needs and think about how to develop a product using less material (dematerialization). What then comes to mind is: do we need a product or can we give it to the user as a service? Also, the material choices really matter, together with the emotional aspects of it. For example, fashion and furniture could be designed in a way that is acceptable for people for a longer time. Ultimately, dialogue between engineers, innovators, designers and the after-use sector (the recyclers, the collection infrastructures) is key in all this and really matters. They are the people creating sustainable solutions acceptable throughout the whole supply chain.