Looking to the Past

Looking to the Past

Eastman Innovation Lab
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Friday, August 24, 2012 - 2:00pm

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Matthews Laws is 25 years old. Adam Paterson is 26. Rich Gilbert is 28. As environmental design strategists, they are looking to the past for the solution to future product design challenges.

“We've been trying to think about how people might own things in the future, and how that will affect the environmental aspects of the product from the outset,” says Laws.

“A lot of the work that we've been focusing on,” Gilbert explains, “is how people can reconsider ownership, how you can actually make sure that the resources and the material value that's going into that product can carry on being a really high-quality material cycle.”

Paterson adds: “When you realize that the Earth only has a finite resource of materials, we simply have to move away from our linear systems of extract, use, and discard. We have to move to more closed loop methods of manufacture.”

“Looking at past design and past manufacturing is really important,” Laws says. “Part of our role as strategists is not only to think about products and the ecosystem of the product, but to think about lifestyles, and about how people might change their lifestyles.” 

“It's quite important when you're looking into the past to understand people's ownership practices, to realize what's changed,” Gilbert says. “If you look 80 years ago, material prices compared to people's income were very high.”

The difference today is far less so Gilbert says we “value our products less because, in real terms, they're a lot cheaper.” Understanding how that affects people's value of a product is important in developing effective environmental strategies for the future. 


Maranda Demuth
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Corporate Communications