In between product creation seasons, adidas designers volunteer to participate in 24-hour design projects to challenge their creativity, to start them thinking in new ways about a particular subject and to foster innovation and collaboration within the team. The idea behind these intense workshops is to give just enough time to get a firm grasp on a particular subject or concept, without becoming mired in the details. The deliverable: an idea, a product concept, a proposal, a pitch-back, a sketch on paper napkins. 24-hour projects are purposely left open-ended to allow for maximum creativity and breadth of discovery in the process.In July 2010, Global Design teams in Portland and at the Group headquarters in Herzogenaurach embarked on a new way to look at sustainability within the context of a 24-hour project. It seemed like an excellent opportunity to engage designers in the subject and so it proved.One team put together the brief with an emphasis on the aesthetic of sustainability. What does a sustainable product look like - past, present and future? What defines innovation in sustainable design? What opportunities do we see within the framework of our supply chain and product creation process for weaving sustainability into the very fabric of our processes?Working through the nightAfter a short briefing meeting, designers were divided into three teams per location and given free rein to begin their quest for answers to these overarching questions. They were given as many resources as they requested, whether it was contacts at the city or local businesses, articles on sustainability or examples of sustainable products currently available in the marketplace. Some teams spent hours talking in conference rooms, deciding which angle to take with their project. Others listed out their top three ideas, voted and began diving into solutions to the challenges they had identified. Feverishly working into and through the night, designers gathered their ideas into coherent solutions, unique proposals and beautifully-crafted presentations to be shared with an audience made up of fellow designers, Global Design Directors and Social and Environmental Affairs team members.Astounding resultsThe results of this short but intense project were astounding. Each team took an entirely different tack on the project of sustainable design. One team focused on building a design resource centre at the adidas Portland Village, which could serve as a local resource for internal designers, as well as a collaboration space for local and regional designers to collaborate and innovate on sustainable design. Another team tackled packaging and came up with a potentially marketable solution for packaging adidas t-shirts. Yet another team looked at bio mimicry and devised unique materials solutions for some of our outdoor products. One team from the adidas Group headquarters proposed an interchangeable footwear solution that allows the shoe to be deconstructed and customised by the end consumer. And another team looked at just-in-time material dyeing for optimal efficiency and material use.Ideas ranged from thoroughly researched to somewhat sketchy. Some projects have since evolved into potential product solutions, and others are being considered by our innovation team for inclusion in the next adidas technology solutions. What united all the projects was a sincere passion for integrating sustainability into the design process at the adidas Group, a passion that drives us to succeed in our mission of truly making the world a better place through sport.
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