Circular Design HOW TO? session on circular design and sustainability

Is sustainability the defining innovation and opportunity of this generation?

On November 26, the Estonian Design Center hosted another international Circular Design HOW TO? session, with Peter Post (Digital Agency Scholz & Volkmer) and Chris Sherwin (Reboot Innovation) talking about circular design and sustainability. Here is a short summary of the session. 

Photo: Peter Post & Chris Sherwin

Peter Post

Peter Post is a Designer and Managing Director of German Digital Agency Scholz & Volkmer, where he focusses on UX- and service design. He recently founded as a platform to develop and share methods for experience design in the circular economy. Peter talked about design for the circular economy and how it mainly focuses on product design, materials and processes. However, he pointed out that the customer also has a pivotal role in making the circular economy work. Circular experience design therefore focuses on the users, to help them with their new roles and tasks – it is user experience design for circular business models. It creates long lasting and valuable relationships between brands, people and products.

As a good example of digital circular experience, he used a conceptual study for an app called “LifeCycle”. The app offers digital support to bicycle owners in making the usage cycle long and retaining the value of the bike. It helps users to assess a bike's lifecycle by telling when it needs maintenance, what activities affect the bike and at what point during its lifetime you can get the best reselling value for the bike. “We have to change the narrative. It's cool to care about stuff and not to buy new stuff every year.” It’s still a rather new mindset – to prolong the life of a product with the help of an app – in the consumer world but the approach is much more familiar in industry 4.0 with so called „digital twins“. We’ll be seeing more and more apps that will be interacting with consumers in that way in order to stretch the value we can get from a product over its lifetime.

Peter also stressed the importance of communication design in circular design. Communication design and experience design have to go together in order to create the impact and change in the way of thinking and, therefore, in the way we behave.

Chris Sherwin

Chris Sherwin is a director at sustainable innovation and design consultancy Reboot Innovation. He has more than 25 years of experience and has helped create several world-first and world’s greenest projects working with several world-leading organisations.

Chris shared his experience in doing concept design for a big yogurt company called Yeo Valley that is focused on various elements of sustainability, e.g. reducing food miles (by preferring local produce), using electricity from renewable sources, and being creative about leftovers and turning them into recipes instead.

Additionally, he spoke about a startup called Winnow that tackles food waste in the hospitality industry (hotels and restaurants). The benefit of Winnow is that once the kitchen starts to monitor food waste, it will cause them to review their existing processes because of the amount of food it is otherwise forced to throw out. It will make the profit lost due to bad food management more evident and visible.

Chris said that many designers come to him asking what materials they should be using in order to be more sustainable. His response to them is to go further back with their questions: is it the material that needs to be changed? Perhaps they should review the production processes as a whole? “Circular design is not only about changing the materials; the impact needs to be bigger and it starts already from the concept.”

Chris believes that sustainability is the defining innovation challenge and opportunity of this generation.


Circular design HOW TO? sessions is an open space for circular design professionals to discuss their work and experience. We try to avoid abstract concepts and discuss practical learnings from circular design projects - how did we design & approach a problem, what happened and what came of it.

Next HOW TO? sessions will take place soon! Follow us on Linkedin or  Facebook  to be informed in time of the next sessions!

The sessions were held in cooperation with the EcoDesign Circle project and its partners.