Innovating for Circularity
How can we manufacture products without using new raw materials? What needs to be considered so that furniture is as durable as possible? Young Vitra talents pursued these questions with us in a special training and digital format for circular innovation.
The objective of the embedded learning program
The participants should learn the right tools to internalize innovation while taking sustainability and the circular economy into account. Project manager Michael Leisinger: “Sustainability is an important part of Vitra’s corporate strategy. The longevity and the choice of our materials have always been the focus of product development at Vitra. With the program, we want to sensitize the team even more to the topic and develop the innovators of the future. Because nowadays innovation can only be realized via the factor of sustainability—that’s why we set up the program together with Indeed Innovation in a modular and practice-oriented way.”
Vitra produces high-quality classic and contemporary furniture for the home and office. The family business has always emphasized longevity and a sustainable manufacturing process.
The fact that 80 percent of the emissions within the lifetime of a product are already determined in the design phase was nothing new for Vitra. But to further reduce the ecological footprint, designers and engineers must be empowered even more to reduce emissions with their designs as much as possible.
The “Vitra Talent Program Innovation & Engineering” aims precisely at this. Innovative, sustainable products with lighthouse character are to be created. We supported five teams to pave the way to the circular economy with circular innovations.
To develop products for the circular economy, far more background knowledge is required than classic innovation work. This includes knowledge of circular economy concepts, understanding the value chain, and calculation methods for the ecological footprint. To impart this fundamental knowledge, INDEED Innovation developed a tailor-made digital training and coaching program for circular innovation.
A didactic approach to circular innovation
We developed a modular training concept for the teams. It is designed to convey the ins and outs of circular innovation in three phases to achieve maximum training effect:
Listen—learning videos convey concepts, strategies, and background knowledge about circular innovation in ten modules.
Practice—in intensive exercises, the participants must apply what they have learned using practical examples. During the individual tasks, they are guided by experienced engineers and designers.
Do—here, the teams develop their innovative concepts and apply the knowledge they have learned. INDEED’s experts accompany them at regular check-ins and coaching sessions to provide guidance, tips, and orientation in using circular innovation.
The basic building blocks of the circular economy
The modular training concept first conveys the basics of the circular economy, including the product value map and circular strategies. Then, via stakeholder-centered research and upstream innovation, we go to the most essential tools for developing innovative concepts: Circular Business Canvas, Material Flow Maps, and Design Life Cycle Analysis. The program is rounded off by learning units on creative narrative pitches—so those good ideas are heard—and ecosystem thinking.
With the program, we want to sensitize the team even more to the topic and develop the innovators of the future.Michael Leisinger, Vitra
A simple training case example served as a common thread – the self-developed content, such as a sharing concept for an electric cordless screwdriver or a modular design approach for better repairability, was further developed in the subsequent modules. The circular value chain of the exercise example got adapted to the developed concepts during the training, and the right stakeholders and value streams for a circular ecosystem were identified.
Among other things, the prototyping tools developed by INDEED, such as the Sustainability Finance Prototype and the Streamlined Life Cycle Analysis were used in the program, with which the economic and ecological effects of circular concepts can already be estimated in the prototype stage.
- Understanding the possibilities of circular business models
- Maintaining competitiveness through circular processes in manufacturing
- Strengthening of the brand through lived values
- Reduced CO2-Footprint
- Ensuring long-lasting use of furniture
- Promoting a more sustainable lifestyle
- Reduced emissions with the use of recycled or reused parts or materials
- Reduced packaging waste with sustainable packaging
- Saved energy through efficient production or use of renewables
Our conclusion after the intensive weeks of training: In videos and instructions, all the concepts always look so elegant and effortless. But the crucial questions only arise when you decide on the details yourself. And this is where the value of our work arises; apart from the pure transfer of knowledge, it is about the guided and supported transfer performance by experienced practitioners.