Truly Sustainable Design

Mon, 06 Dec 2021

Countdown recently started a promotion offering “Lego Compatible” building bricks when you can make a truck or a supermarket, and integrate them with new and existing Lego. This sparked debate on talkback radio around the environmental impact of these promotions. Overwhelmingly the majority agreed that because the “bricks” were compatible with Lego they would be used and re-used for many years to come. That’s because no one throws out Lego (apparently). Personally I would agree with this, as I still have my 30 year old Lego and regularly get it out to build all sorts of vehicles and structures with my kids, often using my 1990 Space Particle Ioniser along with my Police Highway Patroller parts to build an F1 car or some sort of futuristic train.


As a systems furniture company, we strive to design and develop products that are as modular, flexible, and interchangeable as Lego and can span across decades of change to still be useful 30 years after they have been originally delivered and assembled. In a number of cases we have achieved success with modifying and “retrofitting” existing workstations and screen systems to allow our customers to use them beyond their 10 year warranty periods, thus reducing cost and waste. This meets our environmental objectives (measured and audited independently under ISO14000:1) and those of our customers.


Often modular design of product is due to manufacturing, material and packaging requirements. Therefore a supplier can claim they supply a modular system. Truly flexible and modular systems have to have the future in mind when they are being developed. Materials, fixings, quality of parts and mechanisms, and design of key components need to be considered. This future proof flexibility has been front of mind at Vidak with our development and sourcing of product for over 30 years, but even more focus has been given to this in the past 10 years with the rapid change through technology advancements, (and now Pandemics) that affect the useability, size, structure, layout and working styles we have been seeing in modern workplace.


Our approach is simple, whether developing our own product or something that meets a specific client need;  “What is the problem we are trying to solve?”, “What is the solution we feel will give our customers the best value?”, and “how will they know they have bought a genuinely sustainable system?” In fact a number of our systems have been born out of client need, where we have worked to create something with them that we have turned into a long term solution for the market. In these cases the need is front of mind, working in partnership with our customers we’re able to focus on all the details of their requirements and while we’re designing something that will meet their needs now we’re also thinking about how to make it flexible enough to be modified to meet their needs in the future. While these requirements may be quite specific and not what is desired by the majority, it is a great way to learn more about ways of working, technology and true functional requirements. And if we’ve done our job right, the system will be flexible enough to be modified to meet other client needs.


Nowadays we are developing iteratively, either making updates to our existing product range to suit the ever changing work styles, technology advancements or best practice, or building on a new range that is initially intended to support certain elements of a workplace, to one that covers a wider spectrum of functional needs. This is where truly sustainable design can be best realised. Much like those old Lego sets being used an infinite amount of ways to create something new, building on existing systems extends their life span as it provides more options for reuse and modification by an organisation.


We look forward to the challenges and opportunities that have been created in the last two years as organisations strive toward healthier, more sustainable, better designed and curated spaces to benefit and support their people to feel better and do better at work.


Love your work!