CSR: Responsible design can
be quite sexy

27th April

One challenge corporations give themselves when striving to deliver good design that’s also ‘good’ is managing the endeavour under the auspices of the ‘corporate social responsibility department’. Not the sexiest name for work that has to win hearts as well as minds. Responsibility is key – if it’s not in place no amount of sexy ideas are going to hold water or deliver anything meaningful. But if the responsible behaviour is taken care of then it should lead to some very sexy thoughts. This is important, because a responsible initiative is going to gain more corporate traction if it does some good, saves some money and adds some value. This is the holy trinity to deliver an actual result.

Fast Co.  reports on the return of a twenty year old design icon in sexy sustainable mode: “The high-design lighting retailer Flos has partnered with Bio-on, an Italian biotech company, to reissue an iconic plastic lamp in eco-friendly bioplastic. Flos says Philippe Starck’s new Miss Sissi lamp is the world’s first design object manufactured with polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), a water-biodegradable biopolymer made from the waste of sugar beet and cane production.”

Why is this a big deal? Because as the report continues, “…the material isn’t limited to furniture design. The technology is available at a global level,” Bio-on Managing Director, Marco Astorri says, “With the range of biopolymers developed by Bio-on, it is now possible to create a vast range of objects in all of the sectors currently using plastic.”

In other words, much as Estée Lauder uses the Aveda brand to pilot its sustainable developments, the Sissi lamp is being used as a sexy advertisement for the art of the possible. Long ago we consumers decided we didn’t want to compromise on style for substance (or light weighting). The return of the Sissi lamp is a good example of technical innovation that might be impressive, responsible but a little dull being given a lovely glossy designer sheen. Sugar coating in the best sense.

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