Design Diaries: A Look Behind My Sustainable Design Process

Hello and welcome to the Green Upward design diary series. Green Upward is a sustainable design studio and lifestyle blog. This video is about: Real Tools for Real People, and includes my prototyping, sketching, testing processes. This is all about how to design the beautifully functional, not the pretty useless.

My summary notes from this video are:

  • HOW DID I START? This journey began when I wanted to reduce my waste and live more sustainably. I got frustrated at the grocery store one day when my tomatoes squished at the bottom of my reusable tote bag. Then, I tried bringing a mason jar - but it broke in the store. Inspired by my frustrations, I launched a Kickstarter last august for a more structure reusable produce and bulk food bag.  

  • THE AH_HA MOMENT: I realized I wanted a structured cloth mason jar. I looked online but didn’t find anything like this.

  • PROTOTYPING SKETCHING: I began with rough “thumbnail” sketches to get ideas out on the page. Then I created larger more complicated sketches that explored technical details. High fidelity sketch renders aren’t always needed. I prefer to keep my sketching quick and open when exploring a new design.

  • LEVELS OF PROTOTYPES: Alongside these sketches I made paper and fabric prototypes out of previous scrap material that I had in my studio. I started with simple prototypes then worked my way to the final design. I created over 100 prototypes in the process.

  • THE CONSTRAINTS: I tested a variety of closer mechanisms and I was determined not to use plastic in the design no matter what. This meant no Velcro and no zippers. One might buy metal zippers but the fabric around the zipper would be plastic.

  • USER TESTING: I did a variety of user testing with the bags. I brought prototypes to people’s home to evaluate the design, I made my family and friends bring prototypes with them the local grocery stores, and I of course brought the prototypes along with me.

  • MANUFACTURING TESTS: The final tests happened at the manufacture. I brought weights from my parents home gym and suck them in the bag and shook them hard - some of the seams did tear a little and we learned where the stitching needed to be reinforced.

Thank you for watching! If you are interested this is the 1st video in a 5-part series, you can find the other videos below or on my blog page. If you’re interested in learning more about Green Upward I suggest signing up for the community email. You'll get 10% off your first purchase by signing up!