Sustainability of design and design of sustainability – Harsh Purohit @ Indialogues

Harsh Purohit, founder - cognito consulting
Harsh Purohit, founder - cognito consulting

Harsh Purohit is the Founder Director of Cognito, a full service design agency and sustainability advisory which specializes in seeding and cascading the practice of sustainability in organisations through successful deployment of multi-disciplinary design and communication tools.

He is a sustainability strategist and performs at the intersection of sustainability, design, technology, and profits. In 15 years at Cognito, he has spearheaded design and communication projects with different brands in various geographies. To address the challenge of global warming, he led Cognito to specialize in ‘sustainability communication’. Partnering with progressive clients like ABN AMRO Bank, Mahindra, Reliance Industries, Grasim and MSPL he has pushed the envelope in sustainability reporting. The ABN AMRO Bank Sustainability report developed by Cognito swept the GRI Reader’s Choice awards and was adjudged the “Best Report, Financial Markets”.

With his presentations to corporate boards, Harsh has played a vital role in helping organizations shift their approach to sustainability from compliance to strategic competitive advantage. He has developed the 4Ps of sustainability which help an organization understand the business importance of sustainability and chalk out measurable goals.

Harsh is actively involved in consultations on development of global reporting frameworks, gender equality and sustainable innovation, and a regular speaker at various forums across India and Europe.

It is a sheer coincidence that it is 11pm at Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India and I am blogging this talk on sunstainability, rather as Harsh says Survivability!

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Design – sustainability – Business : Let us look from this perpsective

What is sustainability? What does each one say?

  • Economists – internalizing externalities
  • Businessman – necessary evil like tax
  • optimists – new world order
  • Pessimist – passing fad
  • Skeptics – big hoax
  • T-shirt designers – That’s my new block buster
  • Developing nation – Conspiracy theory
  • Client’s wife – personal brand building vehicle

What it is not?

  • It is not saving the world
  • It is about saving yourself

Planet is fine, people are fucked… 4.5 billion, we are here only for 100 million years… planet has gone through a lot of things for billion years… planet is not going anywhere, we are…

Sustainability is survivability. Keep the habitat good enough … earth may be happy without us. If we want to survive, we need to be sustainable.

It is survivability of business.. : Hard disk costs have almost doubled in the last two months; imagine doubling! Why? Bangkok floods – 70% of hard disk is manufactured in Thailand, and the recent floods have closed down most of the manufacturing units leading to scarcity, hence price rise.

Sustainability is basically – risk mitigation and reward enhancement. Resources are scarce and we have to handle them carefully.

  •  If you want license from society, then you have to be sustainable.
  • Reward enhancement – cost efficiency, brand enhancement
  • Continuity of nature, human and finance resources is sustainability..

 Cremation business is 12$ billion. 43% are eager to have green funeral…

 Not just for sustenance but also thriving….

 Thrivability –  What does this mean for designers?

Sustainability is the design problem? Designers screwed the world. Transportation… in every business…

 If we can apply our mind, ecology business is 53 trillion dollars…

 Bill McDonald on design: We have to redesign design itself…

 Tata Swach, the low cost water purifiers from TATAs, has infused society with 70 million plastic containers. I just heard that data. I am thinking, what happens to them when they are to be discarded?

Sustainability is the language of business, and not English

New age customer categories..

  • Greenfluencers
  • Bobos – burgeious bohemians…. Back packing witih all tech
  • Nonos – no logo, any kind of brands is a clear no
  • Culturally creative – paul ray book – inner directed, fight for social justices
  • Lohas – lifestyle of health and sustainability

 Systems thinking..

 Thinking differently. Bill Gates is finding ways that can control hurricanes. Why do winds blow? Difference of temperatures between ocean and land, so I can control them if I can minimize the difference…Hurricane recedes due to water pumping on the surface of ocean which reduces the temperature difference..

 Address scale

 Solutions of yesterday are problems for today…

–         Cities become their own problems : How do we reduce the influx into cities, how do we reach out and facilitate hinterland?

 Permanence, Not obsolescence

  • Designing a product that has to become obsolete…
  • 95% of cell phone thrown away due to perceived obsolescence, 90% of garments thrown away

 DFD – Design for disassembly

  •  HP toner to be filled and resold
  • Volvo networks

 Function. Not form (Bruce Mou)

 Design has to focus on function, not just form…

 What can I do?

 What all can we recycle, reuse and reproduce…just think and implement

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