About Ecodesign, Circular Economy and Our Project

Ecodesign - Our understanding


A key aim of ecodesign is to reduce to a minimum the overall environmental impact of a product or service. It refers to innovative design solutions in both products and services that take into consideration the entire lifecycle – from the extraction of raw materials to production, distribution and use – all the way to recycling, “reparability”, and disposal. Minimisation of pollutants during the production period is just as important as it is during the product’s lifetime. However, ecodesign is an elastic and evolving concept that is better considered as an approach to design than as a label for eco-friendly products.

The use of energy-efficient and eco-friendly resources is certainly an important aspect, but the concept of ecodesign goes beyond this. It is a holistic approach, keeping in view environmental, social and economic benefits as well as aesthetically appealing and durable design. Ecodesign by its nature fosters innovation and promotes behavioural change in producers and consumers towards product-service systems and self-sufficiency. It envisions “ecologically-minded” thinking not as an add-on but as part of the fundamental design process right from the start. Once it has made the leap from theory to practice, ecodesign can help achieve the move towards a circular economy. In short, Ecodesign is good design that benefits people and the environment alike.



Perspectives on ecodesign


  • IDZ Patrick&Jutta

    Ecodesign offers innovative and appealing solutions, viewed from a perspective that encompasses aesthetics, functionality, user-friendliness, and of course sustainability and environmental compatibility.
    Our world is in large part man-made – or rather, designer-made.
    Objects and processes are not products of chance, but are planned, designed and built. An important objective of Ecodesign is to create products, services and systems with minimal negative impact on our health and environment – in all stages of their lifetime.

    In short, Ecodesign is good design that benefits people and the environment alike.

    Jutta Brinkschulte & Patrick Liwitzki, International Design Center Berlin
  • UBA

    Ecodesign is a systematic and comprehensive creative approach to products and services, employing improved product and service-design to minimise their environmental impact across the entire lifecycle.

    During product planning and design, producers can greatly influence any phase of the value creation process and material lifecycle – a chance to promote ecological innovation.

    Lead Partner Umweltbundesamt, German Environment Agency
  • SVID_Catarina

    Circular economy and ecodesign are all about smart, innovative and sustainable design solutions with minimal or no waste when a product is consumed. What whatever waste there is should go back to the producer, to be used by consumers in a new context or be returned to nature without doing any harm.

    Concerning sustainable development, ultimately, our aim is quality of life - for everyone - today and in the future. To ensure that design and product development progresses in the right direction, we need to include a holistic perspective that includes the environment, people, the economy and culture.

    Catarina von Matern, SVID
  • DFF_Kristina

    Should ecodesign be considered strictly from the point of view of resource efficiency, sustainability and circular economy? Or should a broader view be taken on ecodesign?

    I would regard ecodesign from a wider perspective taking of course into account resource efficiency, sustainability and the circular economy.
    In my mind, when talking about ecodesign we should be talking also about product-service-system thinking, about replacing products with services, about disrupting and transforming the market with new, better designed products, services & ways of doing things, creating totally new business models.

    Kristina Noor-Ilander, Design Forum Finland


Good ecodesign examples

Roadshow Ecodesign

We collected 30 visionary ideas, products and services for our Roadshow Ecodesign (2017 - 2019).


German Federal Ecodesign Award

The German Ecodesign Award recognises sustainable products, services and concepts which are outstanding in their design. Since 2012, the German Ecodesign Award has been granted annually by the German Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) and the German Environment Agency (UBA) in cooperation with the International Design Center Berlin (IDZ).

Here you can find all nominated and awarded projects since 2012.



Our partner, the Design Forum Finland, is involved in SUSTAINORDIC - a platform and network that aims to promote sustainable consumption and production based on a Nordic perspective. The network partners collectively gather good examples from the Nordic countries.



Ecodesign - the way out of linear into circular systems



Some academic definitions


Design for Sustainability

Design for Sustainability
by Rocha, Antunes & Partidario, 2019

..." is a holistic design approach that enables to integrate and assess the sustainability dimensions in different stages of the product or product-service development process towards the required scale of incremental and/or radical innovations."

by Vezzoli, 2018

..."[is] a design practice, education and research that, in one way or another, contributes to sustainable development"

Circular Product Design

Circular Product Design
from "Products that last" by Bakker, Hollander, van Hinte & Zijlstra, 2014

... "Elevates design to a systems level (1),
strives to maintain product integrity (2),
is about cycling at a different pace (3),
explores new relationships and experiences with products (4) and is driven by different business models (5)."


by Johansson, 2002

..." refers to actions taken in product development aimed at minimising a product’s environmental impact during its whole life cycle, without compromising other essential product criteria such as performance and cost."


by Vezzoli et at., 2014

... is "the design of the system of products and services that are together able to fulfill a particular customer demand (deliver a 'unit of satisfaction') based on the design of innovative interactions of the stakeholders (directly or indirectly linked to that 'satisfaction' system) where the economic and competetive interest of the providers continuously seeks both environmentally and socio-ethically beneficial new solutions."