Design for Green Industry: Regional Resilience

Patrick Christie

Building off the success of last year’s 3rd year Industrial Design course with Unbuilders + Heritage Lumber, TWIG is committed to developing the next generation of wood design leaders. For the last 20 years, Christian Blyt has been running a wood design program at Emily Carr, and each year the students focus on creating a product from local wood. Over the years, the industry has supported the program through wood donations, plant and site visits, and their time in-kind to participate in the critiques and presentations. Students will be working with wood from the Cortes Island Community forest for the spring semester, donated by Ellingsen Woods.

This is the first year that students are designing not only in consideration of the material but also within the context of Cortes island. The students will get first-hand exposure and invest time in research to learn about Cortes as a place and what makes this island community unique. The province is regionally diverse, and each community has its own characteristics fibre access, and capacity to process raw material into finish products. What can be designed and manufactured in the Lower Mainland is different than what can be done on Cortes or other remote communities that are less industrially developed. Learning this way facilitates a deeper understanding of regional design and hyper-localism, which are core contributors to a circular economy.

Design today has to go beyond the creation of a physical product and into its lifecycle – the end of the cycle and the beginning. The design process can be an effective tool in generating economic, social, cultural, and environmental benefits for local communities. In BC, we have yet to realize or even acknowledge Industrial Design as a critical factor in innovation and the future of our industry. Other regions around the world, such as Finland, where Christian Blyt received his master’s degree before landing at Emily Carr, understand this and are leaders globally in the space of value-adding their forest resources.

Ellingsen Wood’s will be taking on a student for the spring semester as part of a program developed by Emily Carr’s Living labs to create real impact while giving students hands-on work experience. This student will support the existing needs of the company and the outcomes of the Industrial Design projects.

Design for Green Industry: Regional Resilience is a brand new program that will run from January to April 2022. This initiative is part of Living Labs’ activities throughout 2021 – 2022, which will focus on circular economies and local ecologies.

Modeled after the highly successful Design for Startups program and funded by NRC IRAP, this new initiative brings the transformative power of design to SMEs by connecting them with designers to produce deliverables that will impact their business and local and regional circular economies broadly.

Design for Regional Resilience targets firms that contribute actively to localized circular economy networks. A circular economy is regenerative by design and aims to decouple growth from the consumption of finite resources gradually. Approaches may include reuse/redistribution, active sharing within partner or customer networks, and rethinking product-service relationships.

This program will help SME firms to:

  • Deepen engagement with circular economy practices, products, or partnerships
  • Communicate sustainability metrics and/or contributions to the circular economy through brand storytelling, including data visualization and visual documentation
  • Align core products with the needs of target customers using design-led methods of user research and testing
  • Assess and adjust existing products and processes toward the goal of meeting sustainability targets or simplifying user experiences
  • Prototype new products
  • Map material, energy, or consumption flows within internal or external systems.
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