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Start with Sustainability: making sustainability the meta-objective for design

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posted on 01.01.2012, 00:00 authored by Kinnari Thakker

“Start with Sustainability” articulates the need to design products sustainably and provides designers with tools that enable them to do so. My thesis argues that a sustainable design practice is achieved by asking critical questions that anticipate social and environmental implications of our design decisions and enable discussion about it. My thesis also argues that by asking these questions early in the design process—at the problem-framing phase, enables them to largely impact the decisions going forward.

The “Start with Sustainability” framework combines two models for—the Triple Bottom Line and the Life Cycle Analysis. The framework juxtaposes them to reveal more comprehensive concerns about the social, environmental and economic attributes of product life cycles. The solution then provides a set of critical questions at the intersections of these models, enabling the designer to better recognize the interdependencies between their design and other complex problems. These questions are asked in the form of a deck of cards that also include resources to aid designers to discuss and address these problems.

In response to user testing, “Start with Sustainability” also includes a website for further participation and additional resources. The website would serve as a participatory way to build a repository of resources that can be customized towards the needs of different disciplines within product design.




Degree Type

Master's Thesis



Degree Name

Master of Design (MDes)


Dan Boyarski

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