Barriers and opportunities for integrating sustainable product design into Ankara small and medium-sized furniture enterprises

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2012
Okursoy, Mehmet Erçin
The increasing impact of mass production and consumption behaviours have made sustainable product design an important issue in design literature in the last two decades. Studies in the early period focussed on research projects carried out in collaboration with multinational large-sized enterprises, owing to pressures from non-governmental organizations. However, recent studies about sustainable development have pointed out that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) rather than multinationals have a greater share of manufacturing and employment in both industrialized and industrializing countries. Unfortunately, in spite of the important role of SMEs, there is inadequate data and literature relating sustainable design practices to these firms. A lack of information and collaboration, caused partially by communication problems, has resulted in an absence of proper sustainable product design tools for these companies. Furniture enterprises in Ankara are the focus of this study because of the impact of product design in market possibilities and the spread of employment of product designers in the sector. Attitudes of staff and consultants of furniture SMEs regarding barriers and opportunities of sustainable product design are explored, and contrasted with overlapping points of existing product development methods and strategies in the literature. This work is intended to contribute to improved understanding and application of sustainable product design among furniture sector SMEs. To this end, interviews were conducted with 16 furniture manufacturing enterprises from the furniture industry, based in Ankara region and 5 freelance furniture designers cooperating with these enterprises. According to the results of the study, furniture sector SMEs are interested more in economic opportunities of sustainable product design rather than environmental and social aspects. Furthermore, a lack of information about environmental issues is observed in micro and small-sized enterprises; to overcome this situation, it is recommended that training sessions are organized to bring together researchers and practitioners.

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Citation Formats
M. E. Okursoy, “Barriers and opportunities for integrating sustainable product design into Ankara small and medium-sized furniture enterprises,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2012.