Farrell Calabrese leads the 2024 jury for The Core77 Design Awards in the Sustainability category. This category features any designed product, service, or system tackling issues around sustainability in a thoughtful, research-backed manner through strategies ranging from materials, production methods, efficient systems, packaging, and shipping.
Farrell Calabrese challenges you to choose how you show up based on who you are and what you are uniquely passionate about. Because, as she says, "we don't need a handful of corporations doing sustainability perfectly – we need billions of people doing sustainability imperfectly."
Purpose and Sustainability Director for Crowe, Farrell Calabrese
As the Purpose and Sustainability Director for Crowe, Farrell is dedicated to accelerating the positive impact people and organizations can make by inspiring visions for a more sustainable future. She has spent two decades working across communications, design, innovation, and corporate sustainability, simplifying complex topics to make them actionable, and studying and applying leadership principles to help purpose-driven teams and organizations achieve progress at scale.
Farrell's results-oriented approach stems from the ability to engage, educate, and coach others to see themselves as a part of the solution while tapping into the creativity, knowledge, and diverse perspectives of the business environment. She believes in celebrating successes and amplifying the impact of great work happening across corporations, knowing that a lot of work remains to be done across the world and its supply chains. Farrell also believes in intentionally designing the world we want to live in – that our place and circumstance, decisions and habits collectively impact people, society, our environment, and our connected world, granting each of us the agency to make decisions that have either a positive or a negative impact.
As a sustainability practitioner, Farrell is optimistic about the future and the global journey towards sustainability. She sees this as a moment of opportunity to rethink and redesign our systems, processes, and products accordingly. "We have reached a critical tipping point where we must be mindful of the reasons behind our actions, the methods we employ, and the long-term impacts of our decisions," she said. "The choices we make today will have far-reaching effects, both positive and negative, and it is our responsibility to ensure that these effects are beneficial for our planet and future generations."
In Farrell's opinion, wasting resources in the face of a changing planet and rapid population growth is unacceptable. She urges designers to create within planetary and societal constraints, with intentionality in action and systematic planning to retain the value of goods and services for as long as possible. This means not only minimizing waste but also maximizing efficiency and promoting circularity in economic systems.
Through her work, Farrell sees enormous potential for innovation and transformation, a chance to redefine our relationship with the environment, shifting from a linear 'take-make-waste' model to a circular one, where waste and pollution are systematically designed out. As she said, "This is not just about preserving resources; it's about creating a more equitable, resilient, and sustainable world."
Farrell cautions designers to consider the broader long-term impacts of a design on our environment and society, rather than prioritizing immediate needs. Because designers help shape the way the world is 'made,' Farrell encourages them to move beyond form and function, to systematically design waste and pollution out of products while continuing to delight consumers. As she said, "We need to ensure the longevity of a product and its materials, mitigating the negative social and planetary impacts of bringing that product or service into the world."
Farrell highlights a common lack of knowledge and expertise in materials and processes within the design industry. These elements are crucial in creating successful designs that can make a positive impact. It's important for designers to recognize the significance of the environmental impact their work can have, both positive and negative. By understanding the carbon footprint of their designs, designers can strive to create not only visually appealing outcomes but also ones that are just and regenerative for both people and the planet. She is passionate about educating this community on these topics as she believes sustainable design is at the forefront of change at scale.
Farrell's advice to Core77 Design Awards entrants? "Be very clear on the 'why' behind your design." What is its purpose? What environmental or societal problem is it addressing? What materials and processes will be used? When possible, she encourages entrants to state what Sustainable Design Principles were used in the creation of your design and the positive and negative impacts your design may have on people, society, and the planet. Some to consider could be: Circular Design, Eco-efficiency, Cradle-to-Cradle design, Biomimicry, Service and Flow Economy, Green Building Design, Life Cycle Assessment, Social Sustainability, Renewable Energy, Material Selection, Waste Minimization, Durability, Energy Efficiency, Water Efficiency, Local Sourcing, and User Participation.
As Farrell said, "Building awareness around and celebrating designs that address these issues can inspire a collective shift towards more sustainable design practices."
The winner of the 2023 Core77 Design Awards Sustainability category was The Pollinator Kit™ by Mitchell Heinrich of What For Design, Julian Goldman and Dierdre Shea of Fun Stuff Design, and Rory Smith. This product for Checkerspot offers a more renewable option for 2-part polyurethane casting.