[Herald Design Forum 2021] Sustainability the new trend for Gen Z, industrial designers say
Published : Oct 14, 2021 - 17:13
Updated : Oct 14, 2021 - 17:13
Lee Don-tae, executive vice president and head of Corporate Design Center at Samsung Electronics, is answering questions from the audience at the Herald Design Forum 2021 on Thur.
Sustainability is a key trend in industrial design as Generation Z consumers prioritize conscious and valuable consumption when it comes to making purchases.

The latest trend for those born between 1997 and the early 2010s, is not about being trendy, but about creating designs that people do not get sick of for a long period of time and thus leaving a smaller carbon footprint, said experts in industrial design who took part in the Herald Design Forum 2021 on Thursday.

Benjamin Hubert, a London-based industrial designer and founder of the agency Layer, defined a sustainably designed product as those that do not need to be thrown away when it is ruined, because there are replaceable parts and its software can be upgraded.

“It’s really, to think about longevity and value to the consumer and the user of this product. Will somebody use something for 10, 15, 20 years? Will they pass it down to other family members?” said Hubert, who virtually participated in the forum.

“And if they are going to do that, it has to have quality and it has to have timelessness. Timelessness meaning that design language stands the test of time. But also technology platform that can be up graded, will last and can be changed depending on the requirement of individual.”

Hubert referenced several of Layer’s projects to elaborate on sustainable design.

The Axyl collection, consisting of chairs, stools, benches, and tables made with recycled aluminum Y-frames, is an example of sustainable furniture, having used just 5 percent of the energy that is usually required to create new aluminum, Hubert said. The project won 10 international design awards in 2018.

Layer also designed a near-future concept, an autonomous ride-sharing platform called “Joyn,” that aims to make ride-sharing more environmentally friendly.

The vehicle can stack up to eight modular seats in S-shaped pairs that face opposite directions to maximize each individual’s privacy.

An eco-friendly transportation alternative to existing ride-shares, passengers can use the app to find nearby vehicles and available seats, helping alleviate the “eco-guilt” of single-passenger rides, the company said.

Lee Don-tae, executive vice president and head of Corporate Design Center at Samsung Electronics, another speaker for the forum, said sustainable designing is always a key focus at Samsung.

“Industrial designers must study the natural values of human beings to lead the future, and design for aesthetic living without discrimination in a sustainable society,” Lee said.

One example is Samsung’s eco-packaging project for TVs. The boxes they are delivered in can be upcycled into a small piece of furniture such as a table after unboxing, Lee said.

Another important value of Samsung Electronics is inclusive design -- designing products without stereotypes and celebrates differences, he said.

By listening to customers’ voices, Samsung Electronics has come up with its Bespoke series, a home appliances lineup that allows customers to personalize features, such as the shape and color of their goods, to fit to their own taste and space, he said.

Both Hubert and Lee pointed out that to design a new opportunity and new possibility for the future, not only do industrial designers need to be aware of changes but government support, cooperative companies and scientists are also needed.

By Hong Yoo (
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