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How Nike's circular design aims to save the world

In these times of impending climate disaster, it's become clear that every industry needs to radically change its thinking and become more sustainable. And if that means going back to the drawing board in many case, then designers are going to have to shoulder some of the responsibility, up their design thinking and start creating in a more sustainable way.

That's the reasoning behind a new manual for designers created by Nike along with students from Central Saint Martins. Inspired by Global Fashion Agenda and its aim to make sustainability fashionable, Circularity: Guiding the Future of Design details the principles that manufacturers need to address in order to create products that eliminate waste and avoid negative environmental impact; a process called circular design. Note that circular design isn't the same as biophilic design.

Available for free online in both a web version and an 89-page PDF workbook, Circularity guides designers and manufacturers through these 10 principles: 

Nike's 10 principles of circular design

Via a series of thought starters asking difficult questions about the materials, processes and environmental effect of projects, plus a selection of case studies and inspirational examples, it aims to make designers think hard about the impact of their work and ultimately create longer-lasting products that are designed with the end in mind.

Nike Circular Design

Nike's plan covers the whole product cycle, from design to recycling

"We have an obligation to consider the complete design solution, inclusive of how we source it, make it, use it, return it, and, ultimately, how we reimagine it," says Nike's chief design officer, John Hoke. "The guide and its related workbook share principles that support a universal call to action for our industry: We must all come together and have a more positive impact on our planet."

Nike's guide to circular design is available online; you can download the more detailed PDF version here.

Jim McCauley

Jim McCauley is a writer, cat-wrangler and occasional street performer who's written for a multitude of publications over the past quarter of a century, including Creative Bloq, T3, PC Gamer and a whole load of long-dead print magazines.