[4] Holistic Circular Design

[4] Holistic Circular Design

Last Updated
Last updated August 26, 2023

Conversation with Isabelle Laros

Circular Design Engineer @VanBerlo

In this episode, you’ll meet Isabelle Laros. Isabelle is a Circular Design Engineer at VanBerlo part of Accenture. She will touch upon holistic Circular Design and how designers must embed their practice from strategic to execution levels.
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Reach out to Isabelle on LinkedIn

Links mentioned by Isabelle

  • The art of not giving a f*ck (Mak Manson) : Link

Raw Transcript

Note: This is a rough transcript that contains hiccups/typos. It could still be useful to the listeners that would like to come back to a precise point of the discussion.

Intro & Sustainable vision

Baptiste: Hi there. Can I ask you to briefly introduce yourself? Who are you? What's your name, your, your age, your backgrounds. What's your work, basically?
Isabelle: Okay. Well, my name is Isabella Isabella Laro. I am 27 years old. And I work at a company called Palm Verlo as a circular design engineer. So I'm mostly work on product design and especially more in the, the later stages of the, the, the product product design process. and I'm also part of the sustainability team here called Team Donuts. And yeah, well, yeah, during my practices I found out quite quickly that in order to implement sustainability, well you have to be involved in every part of the process to do it properly. So instead of just engineering things, I find myself also doing a lot of well, more strategic work and.
Combining both strategy and, and actual implementation of sustainability.
Baptiste: Great. And so you mentioned sustainability. Would you be able to share a bit of your definition of sustainability and maybe the, the vision, if you have a personal vision about sustainability?
Isabelle: Yeah, so theoretically, like just the theoretical, I would, I would state the, the brentland commission of meeting the needs of the present.
without ment compromising the needs of future generations. But on a personal level, I would interpret it more as a balance finding the right balance between giving and taking from the earth as well as personal happiness. So yeah, balance on, on multiple levels. So maybe even like the, the people, people balance planet balance.
Or maybe not profit, but business maybe. Yeah, business balance, I guess. Yeah, balance business.
Baptiste: Yeah. Yeah. Can also, yeah. And so that could consist a bit of like your vision concerning sustainability, like trying to reach that balance. Yeah. Trying to yeah. Okay. And out of this in your practice, maybe from your experience, is there any.
any kind of methodologies, any kind of tools that you found yourself like applying and that you think are, are useful? Something you could share with the people listening or the people watching watching
Isabelle: this? Yeah, so it's something that I, that I find myself doing every time, basically is making visualization of the, the system or the context of a product that is going to be designed or that is already there to really understand the, the nitty gritty.
How a product comes into existence, why it comes into existence all the way to how it is decommissioned and eventually reaches its end of life in some kind of way. And then through, through making such a visualization, you can imagine how a takeback system could look like to maybe repair, refurbish, recycle.
Yeah. So, and it also helps to, to bring together multiple stakeholders. And it's a great conversation piece. And yeah, I, I would say a great start of a, of a project. It's almost a, yeah, it's a must . So there would
Baptiste: be system visualization. Yeah. Right. Yeah. Okay. And. , do you have any example maybe or like things we, where we, where you applied actually system visualization?
Isabelle: Yeah. So during my graduation, for example I visualized the, the, the well currently linear system of a an EV Charger's life. And I also visualized the potential loops of taking such a project product back to its mo factory and to refu refurbishing it or remanufacture it and to make that those visualizations more interesting.
I also added like specific distances or like estimated distances that had to be driven the stakeholders involved. So yeah, it was very helpful in visualizing. the potential scenarios that could be implemented and engaging
Baptiste: then with the, the stakeholders, right?
Isabelle: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Baptiste: So I'm asking a bit of the, the same questions, but one would be if you had like a cast blanche mm-hmm.
cast blanche or, or kind of a white check, blank check mm-hmm. What would be the, the sustainable products you would be developing? Could you think about. , you know, like the, the, the perfect brief, the perfect kind of clients should be thinking like, this is, this is the product or the service I want to work on.
Isabelle: Ooh, okay. Let me, let me think about that. Mm-hmm. Like, immediately my mind goes to the, the, the, the, the, the groups that we have identified, or the sectors that we have identified. That have the most most impact. So the biggest climates or biggest carbon footprint. So maybe something in those areas to really tackle the source.
On the other hand, I think I might personally be more happy doing a product or designing a product that helps with people, that helps people find balance in some way, and that also contributes to their happiness. . So more of a social, social project. Yeah. So yeah, so maybe something that at the end you can test with people and see them smiling and be happy with the product that you have developed.
Of course doing a system map taking, making sure that it's eco designed and that it actually has a purpose. Like I wouldn't want to. Another products, you know, that that's just going to be there. That's taking up space, taking up sources resources. I wouldn't want that. I want something that truly has an impact.
It's, it's a difficult question, . Yeah.
Yeah. I'm not sure if that's, if that's clear enough. I
Baptiste: think. Yeah. Well it's maybe if you have an example in mind, but indeed you could. So from a footprint perspective trying to decrease the footprint and make the product more sustainable. But then, as you said, also with a purpose, so has to be something that brings happiness.
If I, if I
Isabelle: paraphrase you or, yeah. Or maybe helps with, with mental health. I think that that could also be some, something that could be really cool. Helping people with being mindful. I. If we are, yeah, we want to, to, to achieve a certain type of change. Right. And I think a lot of the time from what we, what we see, what I see is that in the end, money prevents us from doing what's right.
So company companies are not allowed to do the right thing because their investors say so. . So I, I think that if, if the individuals at some point can become more mindful or more happy with themselves, really find out that money is not what makes them happy, I think that could maybe cause some kind of change and it would be really cool to design well still a product for it because, well, I am an engineer and I would love.
Make the 3D cap model of the product eventually and make a prototype, that would be really, really cool. Yeah. Don't know if that makes sense, but
Baptiste: Itk for sure. The platform of which this is going to be published is called the and there is this idea of doing an which is a bit of a transition going from point A to point B. If I had to ask. , what, what would be your personal say like, is there, is there something you're currently learning, something you're in the process of doing something that you are you're changing in your life?
Could you mention one maybe?
Isabelle: Yes. Yes. I think, I think I could. I am, well, I've started working this job since one year, and I think it's has, it has been a. Insightful and educational experience personally, because I very quickly also found out that that everyone in this company is unique and you have a right to be you and you can be accepted for that.
So it's, it's, I'm in the process of more of being more accepting to watch myself because I've started working with a. Unique people that are valued for who they are. So I guess that's, that's one of them. And also, I guess in, in, in a bit of an extension of that is becoming more, more aware of my needs becoming more aware of personal values and also being able to say no and stating where my boundaries are.
To nuts and to help not cross them. So yeah, guess personal, personal happiness journey. Yes.
Baptiste: And it's a, it's a journey on knowing where, where are your boundaries and what's enough also. Yeah, that's good there. Yeah. Great. Maybe we're on the job job connection follow up question would be, so currently, of course, , you started the job, but could you envision a bit the future of the job?
If I, if I were to ask you, how do you see the evolution of your job in the next 25 years? How would you see that evolving?
Isabelle: I think maybe in 25 years I won't be working for, from anymore. But there also might be a chance that I still am because I really like it. . And I think the direction that we, we, we are going to is also to more of a surface based.
Yeah. The, the things that we are going to do are more surface based and I think in general it's something that, that I've seen happening over the last year. So that there's more, or no, there's, there's less less demand for actual physical product design. It's also more about the strategy. . And I think going forward or looking forward, I think in the future we will be designing services rather than just products.
Also to, to, to, to that goes hand in hand with, for example, reuse models or repair models. So that's something that that I, I think would happen in the future. I know, I, I really like what I do, so I hope I, I still get the chance to work on the projects very on, but in that
Baptiste: hands on. Yeah. Yeah.
Wouldn't you be afraid of losing this, this, you were mentioning doing the CAD and like working the products out. Would you be afraid to, to lose touch with the mechanical side of things?
Isabelle: Tangible? Yeah. Yes, yes. I think tangibility is a very, I. Topic or like very important to me also in discussions when it gets too philosophical, I you lose me
And that's also, I, I really like having a, a tangible result at the end of a project. Although I can't imagine at some point in time, you know, you, you get promoted. You, you step how you climb the, the, the, the leather within a, within a company. . And then maybe I can also find happiness in providing, I don't know, like more manage or managing the people that are doing what I love, you know?
So enabling others to do what I love. I think I could also be happy doing something like that.
Baptiste: brutal boy. Maybe jumping onto completely also different, different topic, but. So we're talking about the circular , which is also related to this idea of the Tuan Society. Would you know about your cabin footprints?
Isabelle: Ooh, okay. From top of my head. 6.87, something like that.
Baptiste: Yeah. And how would you feel about it,
like going to two town?
Your carbon footprint in general, the concept of the carbon footprints. Indeed, like going towards,
Isabelle: I, I like the idea of calculating your own carbon footprint cuz it makes it tangible and it really points out where you can take action to minimize it.
It's also scientifically grounded, which is very important for, for me. The 6.8, if I remember correctly, is, is something that I was quite disappointed about when I first saw it, because I feel like I'm doing the right things. Mostly I'm, I don't buy a lot of stuff. I eat mostly vegetarian. I'm very conscious about the choices that I make, and I, I've also reached a state where I don't need new stuff anymore to be happy.
in that way. I've also discovered that it was kind of an addiction and I think many people still have that addiction. So seeing the 6.8 after putting in effort it was a bit disappointing. But then it also found out that a lot of other factors contribute to that six point, 6.8 that are not within my I.
So yeah, the, the societal factors like the, the, the roads the, the infrastructure the army, stuff like that, that's all part of the, of the impact. And I think transitioning towards it, toan carbon footprint, it will be uncomfortable. Like I'm, I'm not going to lie. The reason I'm not vegan is cheese
It's, I love cheese. I love, I, I, I'm, I get very happy when I when I eat. So like, you know, very comfort, comforting, big meal. It makes me happy. I have a, there's also a lot of guilt involved in, in the stuff that I do now that I still love. So, for example, I have a car which is really old. It's a car that like I grew up in.
So it's very, it has a very, it has a lot of emotional value for me and it would be difficult to, to say goodbye to that. But eventually if, if we want to reach two tons, , I'm not sure there's room for a , an internal combustion vehicle from 1999 anymore. Or cheese My God. Yeah. . So, yeah. Yeah. Also, by doing the the Tetons workshop, I found out that drinking warm drinks every.
and the alcoholic beverages, for example, they're, that's also quite impactful. I think I drink about four cups of tea and two cups of coffee every day. So then you're at six warm drinks on a, on a daily basis, and it really adds up. And those, those are things that, that give me like a little moment of peace and, and quiet.
So I don't know exactly if I have to give all of that up. And if. I will do so if I need to, then I will. But I hope as a designer that maybe we can also create a future where that, where that is still possible. Like comfortable. Comfortable too Done living . Yeah.
Baptiste: That relates to the balance that you were mentioning, like trying to find the balance between the comfort and frugality of the Tuan society.
Isabelle: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. But we

Resources & piece of advice for younger generations

Baptiste: are, we are approaching the end of the interview. I'm just gonna double check. Yeah. Okay. So we're approaching the end of the, the discussion like two two questions. I'm gonna ask both of them and you can, you can an answer them in the way you want. Mm-hmm. . The first one would be, can you think about any type of book podcast resource that's you would like to share with the people hearing hearing this discussion or just watching you and.
Just any type of resource that you think is worth reviewing or watching. And the second one would be, so you think about the first one. The second one would be, can you think about a piece of advice for people starting their career in sustainability or a sustainable design engineer circle?
Design engineer as you, as you did, and think about a piece of advice for younger generations. Can order, answer them in the order you want, you can take the time.
Isabelle: I think in terms of the, the source I would, the first thing that comes that comes to mind is mark Manson's the Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
It's maybe not sustainability related, but it's good for personal development. And I think it's also related to the second part that I to the second question and as to really guard yourself for your own to guard yourself and find your own values and needs within a certain boundary.
Because the better version of yourself you are, the better you can implement sustainability into your work. and start system mapping !
Baptiste: Great. Yeah. Okay. So just finding your own boundaries, being, being like the best version of yourself, and that will then cascade on Sustainability.
Isabelle: Yeah. Great. Well, at least I, I suppose when you start a career in sustainability, you have some kind of passion or drive for it, right?
So, . Yes. Don't be too hard on yourself. Working in sustainability can be a bit depressing because you become more and more knowledgeable about the subject. You become more aware of the right things and the wrong things that you can do. And you will find out that you are, you will be doing some of the wrong things, and that can be very tough of like a tough, tough thing to.
To come across to, to be confronted with. So I think starting a job in sustainability in itself is already a huge step forward. Don't be too hard on yourself. And if you want to change to really change the things that you are doing wrong, don't do it to cold Turkey. Try to, to reach a certain goal in small increments.
Baptiste: Well, so that's the end of the interview. If people want to reach out to you are they allowed and where, where could they find you? Like on Instagram or LinkedIn? Do you have any place?
Isabelle: Oh yeah. For them, pretty short. So I think on on LinkedIn you can, you can find me Isabella Laro LinkedIn.
It is.
Baptiste: Great. Well, thanks for your time and thanks for the discussion.
Isabelle: Thanks for the, for the interview. It was fun!