Sustainability as a value-adding concept in the early design phases? Insights from stimulated ideation sessions
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As creativity is increasingly important in order to achieve differentiation and competitiveness in industry, designers face the challenge of conceiving and rating large numbers of new product development options. The authors’ recent studies show the effectiveness of ideation procedures guided by stimuli that are submitted to designers in the form of abstract benefits. A rich collection of said benefits has been created to this scope; more specifically, the authors have performed a detailed clustering of the categories described in TRIZ ideality, i.e. useful functions, attenuation of undesired effects and reduction of consumed resources. Aspects related to sustainability and environmental friendliness manifestly appear in the list of stimuli and these issues are reflected in several ideas emerged in initial experiments. However, many promising product development objectives conflict with sustainability or, at least, their adherence to eco-design is arguable. The paper assesses the share of ideas that are supposed to comply with sustainability in experiments described in recent literature. Subsequently, it intends to stimulate a discussion about the introduction of measures to attract attention of designers on sustainability in the critical early product development stages also when green aspects do not represent the fundamental driver to achieve greater customer value. As well, it discusses which sustainability aspects are worth being considered adequately during the very early design phases and which ones could result as exceedingly constraining.