Sustainability and circularity are the topics of our time. In order for both to become increasingly important also in design, companies of all sizes, designers, students and startups are invited to submit their applications for the German Sustainability Award Design (Deutscher Nachhaltigkeitspreis/DNP Design) online until May 14, 2021.

First announced in 2020, the DNP Design has formulated a broad concept of design in order to achieve the greatest possible impact. It is looking for creative approaches in product, service and system design as well as in communication design that promote the change towards more sustainability.

Back in the late 1970s, design legend Dieter Rams, who was honored last December with the Honorary Award of the German Sustainability Award for Design, formulated his "Ten Theses for Good Design". Prof. Ursula Tischner, who is responsible for the methodology of DNP Design, formulated concrete rules for sustainable design in the 1990s - inspired by the rules of the Englishman Edwin Datschewski.

Stefan Diez, industrial and product designer and DNP jury member, is now also moving in this tradition with his recently published "Guidelines for Design in the Circular Economy", a modernization of the theses in the sense of the circular economy, which takes into account the use of recycled materials, good reparability, system capability, energy efficiency and well thought-out logistics.

Designer Stefan Diez at the DNP Design ceremony in 2020
Photo: Dariusz Misztal
Designer Stefan Diez at the DNP Design ceremony in 2020
This concept can be summarized in ten guiding principles:


1. A good product stays useful for a long time.
Design it in such a way that it adapts to changing requirements and thus remains relevant for longer.


2. A good product is repairable.
Use materials where signs of use do not diminish the value. Design it in such a way that components with shorter life expectancy can be replaced by the customer.


3. Can the product be designed as a system?
System components or assemblies can be continuously developed and optimized by the manufacturer in line with technical progress. A good product can be updated and remains on the market for a long time.


4. Use materials that come from a material cycle or that grow again.
The materials used should not volatilize or rub off during use and are generally non-toxic. The materials used should be as self-explanatory as possible and easy to separate by type. A return station should be accessible to the last user with little effort. Renewable raw materials should be processed in a way that they remain compostable.


5. As little energy as possible should be consumed in the production, use and recycling of products.
Consider energy and resource consumption over the entire useful life. For everyday products, a high cost in manufacturing can be more than offset by a daily savings. Also consider the energy required for recycling.


6. Design the product so that it can be transported in a space-saving manner.
It can be packed in a space-saving way during production, for transport to the customer, when moving, for repair and for recycling. The packaging reliably protects the product from damage. Transport distances should generally be as short as possible.


7. A good product is innovative and fascinating.
It should be complex, but not complicated, and offer a concrete advantage to its user. A product should be consistently coherent and honestly designed, speak for itself and enable a resonant relationship with its users.


8. A good product is used by many.
It can be rented, shared, and returned. Could the product, or a significant part of it, even remain the property of the manufacturer? Easy maintenance and repair, as well as long life, would then be a natural interest of the manufacturer.


9. People are employed respectfully in manufacturing, maintenance and recycling.
Good products are manufactured in countries that treat minorities equally and guarantee freedom of expression. The health of workers is protected. Workers are employed according to their skills and paid fairly.


10. A good product is as little product as necessary.
It consists of as little material as possible. In addition, check whether the same or even better effectiveness can be achieved via a (digital) service that makes the material product superfluous.

German Sustainability Award
Photo: Frank Fendler
German Sustainability Award
The sponsor of the DNP Design is the Stiftung Deutscher Nachhaltigkeitspreis e.V. (German Sustainability Award Foundation) in cooperation with the German federal government, leading municipal associations, business associations, civil society organizations and research institutions. The Design Award will be presented in December 2021.



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