Leonie Hesse

48 hours of Making – Design meets Sustainability



The challenge is big. Sustainability is about nothing less than saving this planet. In times, where time is always an issue and where issues are essentially human made, the Fjord Berlin team spent two days on making, prototyping and exploring new ideation methods to address this pressing issue with design led problem solving. An energetic and truly motivating experience for the team and the brave clients who participated in this design doing experiment.


Human nature or human vs. nature

Our consumption is having a major impact on nature. In search of individual convenience and comfort, we do not only leave a footprint, but are primarily responsible for how earth’s geology and ecosystems are being fundamentally reshaped. Some call it Anthropocene – the new human era where our activities have a bigger impact on climate change and the environment than nature ever had. Long story short: Humans are destroying the world they live in.

The destruction still feels too abstract and too far away to convince the masses to seek sustainable lifestyles and think beyond their individual wellbeing. And this is at its core a truly human problem, that can’t be solved by progress and technology alone. But there are ways to tackle this. Human centered design can help. By making abstract ideas tangible and connecting them to human needs (and consumption desires), we can design systems that can influence human behavior and create a basis for positive impact. With design we can

  • Make change human.
  • Make change fast.
  • Make change innovative.

With service design we have developed methods and strategies to detect human needs, drive ideation and formulate concepts. We know how to bring them to life and validate them through testing, and using Design Thinking helps us to get to a possible solution quickly.


With the Design meets Sustainability Make-A-Thon we dedicated two days of our time and energy to try out and come up with new approaches to create purposeful innovation, using materials and technology as our enabler to reach new grounds with different means. Diving straight into the making mode, we discovered ways to build-to-think and to create concrete results to discuss and iterate with, leading to amazing service concepts and prototypes. All within only 48 hours.

Subsequently we organized an evening event together with Accenture, in the framework of the Digital meets Sustainability series. We invited clients from different industries to proudly present the experience and results of the Make-A-Thon. We shared insights on how design can help to tackle these challenges and exchanged experiences with industry experts in a roundtable discussion and an open conversation.


Creating space for innovation

There is no blueprint for great ideas, nor are designers today’s digital alchemists. But they can be catalysts and there are ways to create spaces, situations and structures where innovative ideas are much more likely to appear. Creating those spaces for us and our clients is a major part of what we do.

As creative leaders we continuously need to invent spaces to foster the creativity that enables us to come up with innovative solutions to complex problems. Our best practice is to continuously question and challenge existing structures and procedures. Therefore we need to detach ourselves from previsioned outcomes and trust the process. To make this real and more than an inspirational quote, self-iteration and experimental exploration need to become a valued part of our culture.



Image credit: André Wunstorf

Leonie Hesse

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