OG11 Workshop: Beyond the Peanut

Posted on 10. Nov, 2011 by in Design & Culture, Events, Products, Services

Heidrun Mumper-Drumm led this afternoon’s interactive workshop. As an associate professor and Director of Sustainability Initiatives at Art Center College of Design, Heidrun incorporates sustainability principles into education and the design process.

She opened the workshop by the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), a key tool for teaching sustainability. LCA is a highly scientific and quantitative method. By optimizing LCA, designers can optimize it as a tool to make better design decisions.

Heidrun began the interactive portion of the workshop by distributing canvas bags, each containing a single peanut. She asked participants to complete 5 tasks.

1. Draw the peanut imagined.

2. Open the bag and look at the peanut, but do not take it out of the bag. Now draw it.

3. Take the peanut out of the bag, now draw it.

4. Draw a caricature of the peanut.

5. Tell the story of the peanut.

These exercises encouraged participants to understand the material properties of the peanut, and have some fun doing it. Heidrun then posed the question- do you think you could make it sustainable? She argued that without knowing from where the peanut was sourced, it would be impossible to designate it sustainable. The same holds true for design; designers know what they can make with something, but don’t necessarily know where it came from. LCA can be a tool for assessing where a product came from and how it was made.

Heidrun Mumper-Drumm and Nurit Katz sporting peanut earrings.

The next step was creating a product diagram, which acts as a visual representation of the product’s process. By understanding what goes into that system, designers can better “design out” negative impacts and “design in” positive ones. Even though this was only one peanut, its product diagram was extensive, indicating the complexity of typical design products.

LCA can then move from goals to improve the product process to concepts and, finally, to a design strategy. That way, a breadth of strategies can be developed to tackle the sustainability goals of a given product.

Heidrun closed by reminding workshop participants that LCA is here to stay, and encouraging businesses to adapt LCA in their decision-making.

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2 Responses to “OG11 Workshop: Beyond the Peanut”

  1. Hilary White

    11. Nov, 2011

    Enjoyed your session about the LCA of a peanut.

  2. Hilary White

    11. Nov, 2011

    Enjoyed your session about the LCA of a peanut.

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