Total Beauty

Created by Edwin Datcheski to redefine the concept of what is “beautiful,” Total Beauty is a quantitative framework that offers a point sys­tem to calculate total impact of products and ser­vices in environmental terms (see Figure 3.19).

Energy and materials from renewable sources

Minimum of 10 times efficiency from 1990 levels


FIGURE 3.19. /Ш http://www. flickr. com/photos/rosenfeldmedia/3261692416 The Total Beauty framework.

Strengths: Easy process for designers to use. Can be used in the design process, as well as to evaluate existing products. Provides a fast assessment that is (relatively) easy to use. Fa­vors specific materials, including natural and organic materials, by embodied energy, over technical materials (which biases against prod­ucts, such as electronics).

Weaknesses: Subjective. Incomplete (not detailed). Social issues are left incomplete. Complex products naturally have lower scores than simple products (which may not be an accurate assessment, considering a product’s performance or functions). [21] [22]

hydro) and must be produced according to the other criteria (for example, Cyclic, Safe, and Social). Likewise, materials that are grown sustainably and are easily and real­istically replenished are preferable to those that aren’t. The three categories of energy this framework promotes are muscle power (both human and animal), hydrogen and electricity, and photons (both photosyn­thesis and solar panels). Each of these rep­resents a form of power ultimately derived from the sun. Note: Hydroelectric power is listed as “renewable” but remains controver­sial for newly proposed and many existing power plants for other environmental and social reasons. [23] standing, popular in other frameworks, that all outputs of one process are either the in­puts to other processes or at least affect these inputs. For example, heat isn’t generally unsafe. However, when it’s concentrated as run-off from a power plant cooling sys­tem dumped into a river, it can easily kill all aquatic life in the vicinity (plants, animals, bacteria, etc.).

• Efficient refers to the goal of reducing energy and material use (including water) in manufacturing to 90 percent of average lev­els in 1990. Admittedly, 1990 is an arbitrary date, but it’s an acceptable goal (one has to start somewhere). Is a 90 percent reduction realistic and enough of a change? Eventu­ally, probably not. However, it’s a challeng­ing goal at present and when it becomes less of a challenge, there will be the opportunity to change this goal again.

Quantitative by nature, this criteria is one of the easiest to measure, but can be one of the most difficult to achieve—

especially for well-developed, simple solutions such as flower pots or woolen scarves. The efficiency of solutions that have been in use for decades or centuries may have been improved so much over time that it is difficult today to achieve the gains required by this criteria. At some point, it becomes less and less pos­sible to eke out more efficiency as solu­tions encounter physical limits. How­ever, we’re far from this point currently.

Efficiency in this context also includes (and is measured by) parameters such as utility, durability, upgradeablity, repa- rability, complementary components, long-term thinking, increased efficiency, increased utility, dematerialization, mul­tifunctionality, and locality. [24]

(and who can blame him), but this is a con­tainer for all of those issues that pertain to people (not animals). It can be problematic, however, as it is heavily reliant on specific cultural values. What is acceptable in some cultures may not be in others. In addition, there are many degrees of compliance to social issues. For example, to some, animal testing may not be acceptable, but eating animal products may. To others, neither may be acceptable. Reading Datschefski’s criteria literally, none of these distinctions applies.

Because there are five categories described, Datschefski’s system is easy to remember. However, many designers have problems un­derstanding the scope of Cyclic and Solar be­cause they encompass what often seems like unrelated criteria. It’s also not as obvious how to measure or approach these first two goals as it is for Efficient and Safe.

Datchefski introduces a scoring system to assess the “beauty” of products against each
of his five criteria. This system is more easily applied to existing products than it is to creat­ing new solutions, although it might provide a starting point in thinking about improvements or replacements to existing products.

To score a product in the Cyclic category, Datschefski’s equations calculate the amount of recycled materials used in manufacturing plus the amount of product material that is recycled when the product is discarded, and divides this by 2:

Cyclic (%) = ( % recycled content + % mate­rial recycled ) / 2

To score a product in the Efficient category, the equation is a little more complex:

Подпись:image26Efficient (%) = 100 (1-

Solar (%) = % of total energy from renewable


sources [25]

Safe (%) = % non-toxic lifetime releases of all outputs (to air, water, waste, etc.)

Apparently, Social isn’t scored. Instead, prod­ucts and services that don’t rate well socially shouldn’t be considered further.

This scoring system includes ugly points for particularly bad performance criteria, materials use, energy inefficiency, or social ills. This is the simplest and easiest part of the system to calcu­late. As with EIO-LCA, it is based on rough assumptions and averages, not on actual data from measurements. Examples of ugly points for different materials include the following:

• – i for every kilogram of bioplastics, ceram­ics, asphalt, concrete, wood, stone, and brick

• -5 for every kilogram of food, glass, most plastics, paper, rubber, steel, textiles, clothes, furniture, gas, diesel, carpet,[26] etc.

• -15 for every kilogram of aluminum, light bulbs, paint, plastics like polystyrene and polycarbonate, stainless steel, and electronic assemblies

• -50 for every kilogram of gold, lead, brass, nickel, copper, chromium, chromed steel, cadmium, zinc, and batteries of any kind

Also, it’s possible for the same element to score differently—sometimes drastically—in differ­ent categories. For example, even if a material is grown organically and harvested by equip­ment that is powered by renewable sources (scoring highly in the Cyclic and Solar catego­ries), it can still be harvested by slaves (scor­ing low in the Social category) or be an unsafe material (scoring low in the Safe category).

Likewise, although Datschefski’s criteria favor solutions that are biomimetic or “natural,” they may still be socially acceptable.

Total Beauty can be scored relatively or abso­lutely, meaning the points awarded in scores can be calculated from absolute quantities for a product or assessed in relation to competing alternatives (such as scoring and adding plus – ses and minuses in performance categories instead of numbers to give a relative compari­son between alternatives). Either way, Total Beauty, like most of the other frameworks, isn’t valuable for its accuracy so much as the general impression the assessment gives of a product or service and its impact in regards to specific criteria. Often, this is what designers need to know most, especially during the concept and prototype phases.

An example might help you better understand this system.

Eva Solo Flowerpot

Designed by Eva Solo Denmark, this self­watering flowerpot has won numerous design awards, including a 2005 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) Silver Medal. The pot helps reassure users that their houseplants won’t die from over – or under-watering, as the flowerpot always delivers the correct amount of

Eva Solo Flowerpot (continued)

image27FIGURE 3.20.

/И http://www. flickr. com/photos/rosenfeldmedia/3260809231

A self-watering flowerpot—what an innovation!

water to the plant via a wick (see Figure 3.20). The design is considered to be aesthetic and functional, but is it sustainable?

The entire product consists of three parts: a ceramic flowerpot, a nylon wick, and a glass bucket that functions as a base. The product is sold primarily through online retailers for $35- $40, and is produced in two sizes with various colors. The flowerpot itself is made of advanced ceramics. A 9.5” nylon wick is laced through the bottom holes of the pot, and dangles into the water bucket underneath, allowing the plant to absorb water as necessary, mimicking the plant’s own roots. The glass bucket holds roughly one

Eva Solo Flowerpot (continued)

week’s worth of water for a typical houseplant and is translucent to easily see if the water level is low.

Cyclic: 61.5% (60% for the ceramic + 61% for the glass + 35% for the nylon wick + 90% organic, divided by 4)

Solar: 28.75% (5% for the ceramic + 5% for the glass + 10% for the nylon wick + 95% organic)

Safe: 57.5% (45% for the ceramic + 30% for the glass + 60% for the nylon wick + 95% organic)

Efficient: 50%

Social: 87% (based on issues with nylon production)

Ugly points: 2.25

Note: One of the issues with the Total Beauty framework is that products made from traditional materials and processes suffer because recent efficiencies are much less likely compared to what has been achieved over hundreds of years. Ceramic and glass-making are old technologies

Eva Solo Flowerpot (continued)

whose efficiencies have been reasonably achieved for a long time—certainly predating 1990 by many decades. In other words, they may be as efficient as they can be made. This penalizes older materials and processes.

Though the product scores relatively well already, the team that evaluated it was still able to identify some potential improvements:

• Sourcing the energy used to make the compo­nents from renewable sources

• Using traditional ceramic (such as clay refrac­tory) instead of the advanced ceramic [27]

Eva Solo Flowerpot (continued)

Evaluation by Eunice Barnett, Lindsay Clark, Stephen Lamm, Hillary Meredith, and Daniel Winokur, Presidio School of Management, 2008.

www. evasolo. com

Updated: September 29, 2015 — 4:38 am