The trend report called - A checklist for Sustainability

Introduction to the A Checklist for Sustainability trend report.

This issue of David Report is a checklist for sustainability. We will not provide all of the answers, but we will on the other hand ask a lot of questions – one of the most important ways to acquire knowledge. You will also find thoughtful quotes and best practise examples. One thing is for sure – sustainability is not about doing nothing.

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This new issue of David Report presents an important subject in a somewhat laid back fashion. You may say concise instead of long and elaborate. We will not provide all of the answers, but we will on the other hand ask a lot of questions and present thoughtful quotes and best practise examples. According to us, asking questions is one of the most important ways to acquire knowledge.

The task this time is to present a checklist for sustainability. Regular David Report readers will probably recognize the seven steps of the checklist in this issue. It’s based on the Sustainable Wheel, a holistic vision of sustainable design developed by the knowledge company Designboost. As you also may remember the Sustainable Wheel was the base for issue no 8 of David Report.

Some fashionistas may say that some of our examples are not brand new. We say – it’s on purpose. There are other solutions than newness when it comes to sustainability. You will be able to read a lot more about this in our next David Report issue this fall. Stay tuned.

Welcome to another issue of David Report, and have a nice summer!


Our Keynote


You have to do right. Today consumers demand transparency; “Where has this product come from, what is it doing to me now and where is it going to?”

Sustainability is not about doing nothing.

Sustainable design is a success factor that creates attraction and adds new communicative possibilities for a brand. Which means: sustainable design is not only an idealistic matter, it could also result in new and profitable sales. But stay away from the green-washing, you have to play the cards correctly and credible.

The questions is – how do a company best conceptualize sustainable design? Or maybe we should not conceptualize it at all?

One thing is clear – sustainable design doesn’t have to be boring nor ugly any longer.

You will be able to check out some carefully picked examples further on in this report and some relevant questions we have to ask ourselves…



Keywords: responsible, healthy, resource-economic

– Which material resources do we use directly or indirectly (for example, does our product consume too much energy when in use)?

– What waste do we produce directly or indirectly (for example, recycling of our product is costly; reuse is complicated as it demands transport or substantial deconstruction)?

– Is a sustainable product a product that is beneficial to both society and environment?



Keywords: dynamic, out-of-the-box, differentiation

– Is your product merely innovative or does it contribute to development; an improvement of our lives?

– How can we break innovation barriers sustainable development?

– Do you prefer evolution or revolution as a method for creating better sustainable design and, consequently, a more durable society?

– Is transformation a version of innovation – i.e user-centered design?



Keywords: emotion – engagement, feeling – attachment

– Why do we keep certain things and throw others away without a second thought?

– Emotions make us buy, whilst feelings make us keep. How can a product get a meaning; tell a story which goes beyond temporary lifestyles and makes us associate and recognise?

– How do we design and inspire people to “love” their objects over a lifetime?

– What meaning have: recycling, durable materials, environmentally friendly production and use, if the consumers don’t discover, understand and care for the product, i.e., they are disregarded while still functioning?


Keywords: timelessness, harmony, value

– Have we realised that the aesthetic is about immediate but also lasting appeal?

– Do we confuse aesthetics with beauty? Are we aware that beauty is something negotiated and what is judged as beautiful one day might not be the next?

– Is aesthetics as opposed to beauty less related to lifestyle and culture?

– What makes an object truly age with grace?



Keywords: experiental, multi capacity, value

– Do we recognise that quality is a multi capacity?

– Have we tried to specify our products capacity beyond the most obvious; material quality and physical functionality?

– Have we recognised quality as lasting meaning and appeal and considered if our product makes sense: is meaningful or appears merely strange: new and cool?

– Whatever we produce it pollutes our environment in one way or the other, can we then afford to buy cheap things?

– What’s your personal opinion of the Gucci family slogan: “Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten”?

– How can the use of multi quality make objects survive year after year and be inherited by the generations to come?



Keywords: identity, narrative, ritual

– Is an authentic product an object which is true to its meaning and its function?

-How can we use the knowledge and authenticity from handicraft and local heritage in a global industrial context?

– An object without history is fiction and an object which has not moved on from history is retrospective. An authentic product could be seen as a mix of the two. What is your product?

– How do we create authentic experiences that has meaning and value and a strong sense of cultural identity?

– Will future consumers see a Swedish designed but Chinese produced Orrefors glass vase as Swedish?


Keywords: sharing, interdisciplinary, seamless

– What is at stake if we make our product compatible with that of our competitor? Is it a long term negative, a short term or no negative at all? Is an eventual negative more about prestige and image than real losses? Is compatibility not a true sustainable action?

– How can we make new products connect?

– How can we better create joint platforms (designers, materials, technology etc)?

– How can we connect history with the present and the future?

– Isn’t compatibility also about supporting human to human relationships.



We hope that you found the examples that visualized our checklist interesting. We do also hope that our questions made you reflect on the complexity of sustainability.

As we mentioned earlier – it’s important to always have an holistic approach to sustainability. Otherwise it wont answer its purpose. The recent failure with ethanol fuel is one good example. Something a lot of people thought was a great substitute for gasoline is now heavily questioned.

Or look at ‘energy efficient’ houses. Advanced techno- logy controls the indoor climate; temperature, ventilation, light etc. The problem is that we humans react negatively when we are not in charge of our own comfort. Could these houses at all be referred to as sustainable when users are likely to interfere with the system in an effort to make it suit themselves? Sometimes these systems even have to be removed because we don’t want to live and work at a place that doesn’t respects us as individuals with different needs.

What is sustainability to you?


This issue

David Carlson

Kristina Börjesson

Some quotes and questions are taken from
DesignBoost annual key event.


About David Report

David Report is an influential blog and online magazine that since 2006 writes about trends in the intersection of design, culture and business. Our readers share our interest and curiosity in everything from art, architecture, culture, design and fashion to food, innovation, music, sustainability and travel.

About David Carlson

David Carlson is a design entrepreneur, facilitator, advisor and holistic thinker. Internationally sought after as a speaker at conferences, seminars, schools, and corporate events, David tells stories in an informed and inspiring manner about his holistic approach at the intersection of design, culture, and business. Recently, his assignments took him to USA, UK, France, Japan, Iceland, Chile, Holland, Slovenia, Taiwan, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Mexico, Bulgaria and Sweden. His lectures and master classes are regularly transformed into creative ideation workshops.

David is the founder of the blog and online magazine The David Report, the Designboost conference series, the lifestyle shop Carlson Ahnell, and the furniture and fashion brand David Design. His social life reflects his cross-pollinating mindcast: president of a nature conservation organisation; guitar player in bands since the early 80s, most recently with the band Miller Moon; and last but not least, a deeply dedicated gardener – more specifically, of old roses with unmatched aromas.

About Kristina Börjesson

A PhD in Design Theory and a MA in Communication are matching Kristina Börjesson’s 30 years of experience in management, communication and strategic development. She is currently also a Research Associate at Central Saint Martins College in London.


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