Design competencies in a Circular Economy

Sept. 14, 2022

Design is widely recognized as a driver within the circular economy. Design decisions made now will impact product recovery in the future. The transition to a circular economy requires new competencies. Competencies can be used to inform the development of methodology and curricula related to circular economy. But little research has been done on design competencies in a circular economy. For her doctoral research, Deborah Sumter examined what competencies designers need to develop to be successful in circular design.

This dissertation includes a case study, and results from interviews, focus groups and a survey. The conclusion is a set of nine key competencies for circular design:

  • Circular systems thinking
  • Designing for recovery
  • Designs for multiple use cycles
  • Circular value propositions
  • Circular user engagement
  • Circular materials and production
  • Circular collaboration
  • Storytelling about the circular economy
  • Measuring circular impact

Circular design methodology

This set of nine key competencies is the first internationally verified, coherent set of key competencies for circular design. The set will strengthen the pedagogical basis of circular design and will further advance the development of circular design methodology.

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Delft University of Technology

Within the Faculty of Industrial Design at TU Delft, the Department of Design for Sustainability deals with sustainable product development and design within the circular economy.

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Regular events are organised around various circular design themes

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