Introducing Making Design Circular
Making Design Circular isn’t just about what to do – it’s also about how to be. We bring together designers, artisans, and creatives who share a common goal: to integrate sustainable practices into their work and make the world a better place.
The membership and short courses serve as fertile soil for the seeds planted by makers who want to make a difference.
Environmental responsibility is an integral part of design, not an afterthought or another thing for your to-do list, so my approach enables you to invest in yourself, your creativity, your business, and the planet, all at the same time.
Progress over Perfection: This is about embracing the messy, and showing up in all your imperfect, contradictory, nuanced glory, so you can make progress. The environmental movement doesn’t need a few people doing this perfectly. It needs everybody trying and failing and trying again. So that’s what we’re here to do. Bring your whole self and we will meet you where you are.
Collaboration over Competition: We are all working towards a higher purpose – we are trying to address the environmental crisis and make sure we hit net-zero and all of that good stuff. So our members work together to support each other, aim to give more than they receive, and rise together.
Defiant hope: This is not about naive optimism and it’s not about bypassing the hard feelings either. It’s about waking up every morning, and despite all evidence to the contrary, choosing to believe that we can fix this problem and acting accordingly. Defiant hope sparks aligned action and aligned action sparks defiant hope.
Be the change: Thích Nhất Hạnh says ‘to take care of the environment, take care of the environmentalist.’ I used to think that meant taking care of ourselves so that we could do the work, but I now realise that taking care of ourselves is the work – or at least part of it. If we don’t want to behave in extractive, exploitative ways towards the natural world, that has to start with how we treat ourselves – after all, we are nature too.
Actively do good: It is no longer enough to do less harm to the more than human world. We need start behaving like part of the wider eco-system – not just reducing our negative impact, but actively doing good. And, as designers, makers and craftspeople, you are already part of that good.
Embrace play: The environmental crisis is incredibly serious, but that doesn’t mean we will solve it with seriousness. Techies and suits have got us so far. What we need now is creativity, and you already know that good ideas come from play, experimentation, curiosity and awe. So let’s have some fun!
Making Design Circular Framework
The Making Design Circular framework is an innovative methodology I created, after working with hundreds of makers just like you, to help you rewild your creative practice, so that you, your business, and the planet can thrive.
- Release: Let go of guilt, duty and perfectionism so you can take aligned action.
Absolve: The climate crisis is not your fault. No matter whether you still use plastic in your packaging or you need to get your kiln or furnace super-hot, you didn’t cause this problem. But it is your responsibility. Duty is not the soil in which creativity thrives, so if you want to be part of the solution, let go of the guilt.
Liberate: Perfect is the enemy of progress, so liberate yourself from perfectionism too. Designers, makers and craftspeople are adept at embracing the imperfections of natural materials and the human hand – that’s what differentiates what you do from mass production. It’s time to apply the same thinking to environmentalism.
Values-Aligned Decisions: I would also like to invite you to stop trying to get environmentalism “right” – spoiler alert: there’s no such thing. Instead, make decisions that align with your values, play to your strengths and work for your business. You get to do environmentalism your way.
- Plant: Find purpose, joy and meaning in your environmental work.
Believe: In the face of world news, it can be easy to give up hope. But if we don’t believe we will make a difference, we won’t. So defiant hope is about waking up every morning and, despite all evidence to the contrary, choosing to believe that a better world is possible, and then doing your part to bring it about.
Define: Everybody can do their recycling, but you have a unique set of skills, talents, resources and passions. Instead of trying to save the planet single-handedly(!), work out how you can make a disproportionately positive impact for the effort you put in, and you’ve found your environmental superpower.
Play: The environmental crisis is incredibly serious, but that doesn’t mean a serious approach will solve it. The techies and suits have only got us so far – what we need now is a creative approach. And you already know that good ideas come from play, experimentation, curiosity and awe. So, let’s have some fun!
- Grow: Get the skills, tools and resources you need to make it happen.
Learn: The environmental space is constantly changing and sadly, increasingly flooded with misinformation and green washing. Making Design Circular provides evolving, credible, and fact-checked resources for your journey of lifelong learning.
Walk: Don’t Run. You don’t have to do it all at once. My 5-stage Path to Sustainability invites you to work out where you are in your journey – whether you are an Acorn, Seedling, Sapling, Tree or Forest – and then recommends straightforward, step-by-step actions.
Nurture: We all understand that it’s no longer okay to behave in extractive ways towards the natural world, but many of us still to treat ourselves like resources that can be exploited to the point of depletion – and only then is it okay to rest. Try instead to put rest and self-care first.
The Making Design Circular framework is a call to action to ‘rewild your creative practice’ – to break free from conventional constraints and societal conditioning and embrace a more empowered approach to design, creativity and environmentalism.
It is about creating a symbiotic relationship between you, your creative practice, your business and planet – allowing all four to thrive.
Katie Treggiden is a purpose-driven writer and keynote speaker championing a circular approach to design – because Planet Earth needs better stories.
She is currently exploring the question ‘can craft save the world?’ through an emerging body of work that includes her sixth book, Broken: Mending and Repair in a Throwaway World (Ludion, 2023), and a podcast, Circular with Katie Treggiden.
With 20 years’ experience in the creative industries, she regularly contributes to publications such as The Guardian, Crafts Magazine, Design Milk, Dezeen and Monocle24. She has launched, edited and published an award-winning design blog and an independent print magazine.
She recently gained a distinction for her Master’s Degree in the History of Design from the University of Oxford. She was the founder and first president of Bloom and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Making Design Circular with Katie Treggiden is a podcast exploring the nuances, complexities and mindset shifts we all need to embrace to move towards a more circular and regenerative economy – seen through the lens of craft and design. Most of us know what to do to become more environmentally responsible, it’s the “how to be” part of the conversation that, until now, has been missing. Exploring themes such as perfectionism, values-aligned decision-making, and the role of playful experimentation in solving a very serious problem, Katie’s is a rare and hopeful voice that cuts through the noise.