To craft, by design, for sustainability: Towards holistic sustainability design for developing-country enterprises

Rebecca Reubens

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

165 Downloads (Pure)


Current sustainable design initiatives and approaches are already looking at using industrial
techniques and technologies to recontextualize renewable materials to create innovative products
and systems to suit global markets. However, the design outputs from these initiatives—while
being mindful of ecological sustainability and targeting sustainability markets—do not leverage
the huge workforce and cultural resources available in developing countries, where these
materials occur abundantly and form part of traditional craft practice. These products, therefore,
disregard the need and opportunity for design to also consider the social, cultural and economic
dimensions of sustainability—and thus serve as a vehicle for holistic sustainability.
This is a missed opportunity to holistically impact sustainability—and sustainable
development—especially since craftspeople in the developing world are increasingly vulnerable
to unsustainabilities caused by a loss of markets resulting from the influx of industrial products.
If design were to build upon traditional developing-world craft production-to-consumption
systems, rather than bypass them in favor of a mainstream, industrialized technology-push
approach, the resultant products would be built on culturally sustainable traditions, using
ecologically sustainable materials, crafted in a labor-intensive manner, and target viable
sustainability-aligned markets; thus orchestrating holistically sustainable production-toconsumption
Actualizing this potential calls for alternative design approaches that can generate collective
benefits to the ecology, society, economy and culture in developing countries. This research,
therefore, aims to improve sustainability design approaches, and thereby practice, especially in
the domain of MSMEs working with renewable materials in developing countries.
Original languageEnglish
  • Brezet, J.C., Supervisor
  • Christiaans, Henri, Supervisor
  • Diehl, J.C., Advisor
Award date12 Dec 2016
Print ISBNs978-94-6186-770-4
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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