“Here’s where redesign begins in earnest, where we stop trying to be less bad and we start figuring out how to be good.”

― William McDonough – Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

Cradle to cradle design

Cradle to cradle design, as the name suggests, works with the notions of systems and cycles. Specifically, cradle to cradle design mimics nature by modelling industrial processes on nature’s processes. It views industrial materials as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe ecosystems. It proposes that industry must sustain biological metabolism of nature’s ecosystems while also maintaining a safe, productive ‘technical metabolism’ for the most effective use and circulation of organic and technical nutrients.

Simply, it is a design framework that seeks to create systems that are waste free. It is also a holistic model taking into account economic, industrial, social and environmental factors. So it is not limited to industrial design and manufacturing only; it can be applied to many aspects of society such as living environments, economics, business and social systems.

The idea of circular design is associated with other factors in the design process such as biomimicry, dematerialisation and a systems approach.

The goals of cradle to cradle design are:

  • Material health: minimise, or ideally eliminate, all toxic and harmful materials in the whole production process
  • Material reutilisation: all materials are recovered and recycled at the end of product’s life
  • Energy use: minimise the use of energy throughout a product’s lifecycle first and maximise renewable energy sources in production
  • Water efficiency: water recycling and clean water discharge
  • Social responsibility: including use of fair labour practice
Cradle to cradle design