Day 4 - Seminar in Switzerland

Uniting Creativity and Action

On Day 4 of our Seminar in Switzerland, the theme was a blend of collective action and creative thinking for sustainability.

The morning session explored ‘How Collective Actions Make the World More Sustainable,’ hosted by Roche InnoLab. The discussions focused on the power of unity and the significant strides we can take when we act together towards a common goal of achieving a sustainable future.

After a break for lunch and networking, we delved into the artistic side with the Academy of Arts & Design Basel, exploring “Creativity & Sustainability”. This session highlighted the relationship between creative processes and sustainable practices, and how the arts can be a powerful vehicle for environmental advocacy and change.

Innovate & Sustain: A Morning of Discovery

After three days of exciting presentations, our journey took us to Roche in Basel on the fourth day. We would like to thank Lisa and her team for their time and greatly appreciate the insights they gave us during the Design Dash. We would also like to thank Patricia and Andrea for the guided tour, who told us the fascinating story of Roche from its foundation to its current importance.

A workshop and tour through innovation and sustainability

Today we had the opportunity to participate in a fascinating workshop that not only stimulated our creativity, but also provided important insights into the challenges and solutions of modern large companies like Roche. The workshop, known as Design Dash, was an inspiring experience that encouraged us to find innovative ways to solve problems related to sustainability.

In our workshop, we were divided into groups and each group presented a specific problem. Our task was then to develop a concept on how this problem could be solved. One challenging topic that was discussed was the difficulty of communication in large organizations and how to encourage employees to take action.

Our group addressed the following questions:

  • Reinvent waste: How can companies like Roche transform waste into a valuable resource?
    • We brainstormed ideas for innovative recycling programs and explored ways to repurpose waste materials in Roche’s operations, reducing environmental impact.
  • Reinvent individual behavior: How can everyone contribute towards a positive environmental impact in daily life (including work life)?
    • We discussed the importance of individual actions such as reducing single- use plastics, conserving energy, and promoting eco-friendly commuting options, both at work and in personal life.
  • Reinvent sustainability awareness: How to establish awareness of sustainability throughout a company?
    • We suggested implementing a regular clean-up day, held multiple times per year, where employees come together to clean up local areas and promote a sense of community engagement in environmental stewardship.

This exchange among groups proved immensely beneficial, emphasizing the significance of these topics. Our discussions shed light on the vital aspects of promoting sustainability and engagement within large companies, as well as offering insights into effective methodologies for tackling challenges at both the organizational and individual levels.

Tour of Roche

After the workshop, we had the opportunity to take part in a tour of Roche, which gave us an insight into the company’s history, vision and processes. We learned about the great milestones Roche has achieved in its more than 120 years of existence and what visions still lie ahead. For many who do not yet know: Roche owns the tallest office building in Switzerland and the majority shares are still owned by the family: Hoffmann-La Roche. With 103,000 employees, the company is one of the largest employers and one of the top 100 companies in the world.

Roche’s vision for 2030 includes not only the development of products and medicines, but also a comprehensive transformation of the working environment and infrastructure. During our tour, we learned about the planned changes on the Roche site, where around 8,000 employees work. New buildings will be constructed and older buildings will be replaced with modern structures to create an innovative and sustainable working environment that meets future needs.

Roche is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to achieve its goals. This includes not only the development of innovative products, but also the promotion of sustainability and social commitment. It was inspiring to see how a company like Roche not only strives for economic success, but also wants to have a positive impact on society and the environment.

Overall, the Design Dash workshop and tour of Roche was an extremely rewarding experience. Not only did we learn new ways of thinking and solutions, but we also gained an insight into the future of a leading company in the field of health sciences. It is clear that innovation and sustainability are key components for the success and future viability of companies like Roch.

Written by Dario Harambasic, Saif Mahbuba

Exploring Creativity and Sustainability at the Academy of Arts and Design FHNW

Insight into the Academy of Art and Design  

The Academy of Art and Design provides a thriving environment for the academic pursuit of design and art with a strong emphasis on digital innovation, diversity and sustainability. The academy offers seven different programs, including industrial design, interior design, fine arts, providing around 1000 students with a wide range of opportunities to explore their creativity. During our visit, we had the privilege of exploring one of the industrial design ateliers. We were impressed by the creativity and dedication of the students and to see their projects, all focused on making life a little easier in different ways, while also contributing to sustainability. 

Design is more than just aesthetics 

Angela Grosso-Ciponte, a specialist in transversal competences, explained to us what design is: Design is more than aesthetics. Design also serves a specific purpose and has to be oriented towards the target group or client. For example, the chair we were sitting on during her introduction was designed not only for comfort but also for stackability, illustrating the intersection of functionality and design. 

From linear economy more to circular economy 

After a brief introduction to the importance of design, Angela showed us that design also plays a key role in the transition from a linear to a regenerative circular economy. One way to achieve a circular economy is to analyse a product or process and try to implement the following 10 R’s: recover, recycle, repurpose, remanufacture, refurbish, repair, reuse, rethink, reduce, refuse. 

Doughnut (economic model)

As a next step, we took a brief look at Kate Raworth’s doughnut concept, which represents two rings, a social foundation and an environmental ceiling (see illustration below). The social foundation secures the essentials of life, such as water, food and energy, while the ecological ceiling represents the limits of our planet’s resources, such as air pollution and loss of biodiversity, in order to avoid overshoot and protect our planet. For example, if we look at the overshoot day, which marks the day when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year, we have learned that Switzerland lives off the resources of the rest of the world for about 7.5 months of the year. The goal is to achieve equilibrium between the two dimensions, a space in which people can live and prosper.

Time to apply what we have learned!

Angela’s workshop began with a controversial question: “Where does your underwear come from?”. To answer this question, we were divided into smaller teams and asked to research the origins of our underwear, considering factors such as the materials used, the production location, the manufacturers and the supply chain that led to our ownership. Without the aid of the internet, we had to rely solely on our own knowledge to complete this task. This process revealed that we did not know the roots of our underwear, and thus many assumptions had to be made.

The next phase was to detail the life cycle of a single pair of underwear, this time using the internet. This involved looking at every aspect, from the sourcing of raw materials to the manufacturing process and eventual distribution. The ultimate goal was to identify opportunities to integrate one of the newly learnt ’10 R’s of sustainability’ into the product lifecycle, thereby contributing to the creation of a circular economy. Creativity knew no bounds as we explored innovative possibilities such as turning recycled underwear into new socks or using plastic components from the underwear to make PET bottles. Finally, the goal was to instill a mindset of critical thinking by asking the right questions.

Key Learnings after an inspiring afternoon

What we take away for the P as in Planet is that design is a powerful tool for approaching sustainability challenges from a new perspective and fostering innovative solutions. It provides an opportunity to create circular economic systems using the 10 R’s framework for the design process.

Written by Noah Gamper, Marine Potterat

Impressions of the Day