Edmire Club: A knowledge sharing platform for sustainability and design
Last week, we hosted our very first Edmire Club for a select group of people. It was a successful offshoot of something we introduced half a year ago which started as a knowledge sharing moment amongst our team. Our main focus was to create a tool to strengthen our designers on the horizontal line of the T-Shaped model*.
*The concept of T-shaped skills, or T-shaped people is a metaphor used in job recruitment to describe the abilities of people in the workforce. The vertical bar on the T represents the depth of related skills and expertise in a single field, whereas the horizontal bar is the ability to collaborate across disciplines with experts in other areas and to apply knowledge in areas of expertise other than one's own. The earliest popular reference is by David Guest in 1991: "The hunt is on for the Renaissance Man of computing," in The Independent, September 17, 1991.
Equally important was the need for a platform where we can think out of the box. A place where we can explore how to be more sustainable as individuals, as designers and as a company in general. We all share a common concern for the future of our planet and every one of us has defined a personal challenge to reduce our impact. Since sustainability and reducing impact is a story of many levels and many unexplored solutions, we started looking for experts within these different levels. People who can inspire us to do better. At Edmire we want to explore, learn and be sure that what we do really does reduce impact. We aspire to become experts in all fields related to sustainability. That’s why organizing Edmire Club felt like a natural next step in our journey towards a sustainable future.
Circular Economy and Design
“In the end, the term 'circularity' may just be one way to make us aware that we need a more encompassing, integrated and restorative sustainability path that includes people as much as technology and nature.”
― Michiel Schwarz, A Sustainist Lexicon
Deciding on one topic from our endless list of interesting subjects wasn’t easy. Since we’re designers who create innovative products for a sustainable world, we agreed circular economy was a great kick-off subject.
We invited three experts who provided insights on what designers should ask themselves during their design process. While selecting our experts, we kept the T-Shaped model, mentioned above, in mind and chose experts ranging from generalists to specialists.
They provided us with information on how to recognize if you’re designing a circular or a linear product. As a product designer Manu Vollens, one of our guest speakers, illustrated how you can define whether or not your product will end up in landfill.
How? By using renewable materials where possible, designing for circular use and introducing sustainable business models e.g. pay per use. Our guest speakers definitely provided plenty of food for thought!
Toon Wassenberg is a bio-engineer who wanted to become a forest ranger when he was little. It comes as no surprise that he wrote his master thesis about squirrels. Today he is the founder and owner of Futurehead and is, amongst other career paths, a consultant in circular economy. Toon provided us with an insightful and more general interpretation of what circular economy means for producing products.
Manu Vollens is a product designer who worked for innovative studios like Board of Innovation and Bundl. Today he is co-founder of Switchrs, a multidisciplinary innovation collective that focuses on social-circular economy. He illustrated how designers can check if they are designing a product in a circular way. The design tool he created with the Switchrs team, makes designing for a circular economy very hands-on.
Tille Lingier is a graphic designer and co-founder of Redopapers. They explore ways to repurpose paper leftovers to create unique and handmade design products. Tille showed us their way of working: she and her business partner focus on saving leftovers from becoming waste by giving them a new life in beautifully designed notepads, planners, notebooks, … Besides that they provide a work environment for people that experience difficulties finding their place in the labor market. This makes the story of Redopapers twice as sustainable!
Knowledge sharing & inspirational platform
Edmire Club isn’t just another classic networking event. As a matter of fact, we want to avoid that term. We started Edmire Club in order to create a community that is looking for a platform to share knowledge about sustainability in the broadest sense. We want people to join our Club to exchange know-how, not just to connect with others for business purposes. It goes without saying that discussing sustainable projects and collaborations is encouraged. That’s our number one aspiration after all.
Some of our guests requested name tags and an attendee list. We intentionally didn’t provide these because we want our guests to mingle and get in touch with each other in a natural way. In general people tend to connect with others who have a similar interest or expertise. We strongly believe exchanging thoughts with someone who looks at a problem from a different angle can be eye-opening. That’s why we hope to attract all kinds of people and professionals to Edmire Club, not just designers. In the long run we aspire to establish a community of people searching for inspiration to make a change together.
At the end of the session, we asked all of the attendees to give their feedback on this try out session. One of our guests treated us to these interesting words: ‘Sustainability is not a goal, it’s a means of reaching the best possible Anthropocene’. On that note, we hope Edmire Club will grow into a platform where people come together to inspire each other and protect the future of our Planet Earth through innovation!
We hope Edmire Club will grow into a platform where people come together to inspire each other and protect the future of our Planet Earth through innovation!
Will we be organizing another Edmire Club? Yes, definitely! The first edition was a big success and we want to keep expanding our circle of passionate pioneers. Guests who attended the first Edmire Club were asked to vote for a next Club topic. The results will be communicated in the upcoming weeks. For our first event we decided to work with invites and keep the group quite small. The next Edmire Club will probably be open for the public. Don’t want to miss out? Make sure to keep an eye on our website and register for our newsletter!