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The Power of Design Thinking, Part 2

Adidas is another company that understands the power of Design Thinking to address problems on a global scale. This is our second example this week of the power of Design Thinking. It also has creative uses of recycling and up cycling, and demonstrates the power of collaboration.

This bought some of our attention on Design Taxi this week: The world’s first shoe prototype made from recovered ocean plastic and illegal fishing nets called gill nets.

Adidas collaborated with Parley For The Oceans, who in turn collaborated with Sea Shepherd to monitor and retrieve the materials from an illegal fishing vessel.

Gill nets are a particularly unsustainable and cruel form of net fishing:

  • Unsustainable because they capture and kill everything from fish and sea turtles to large mammals such as dolphins and seals, therefore destroying the biodiversity of the oceans.

  • Cruel because fish get their gills caught in the nets, and die by suffocation. Larger animals get their heads caught, cut deeply by the nets and drown

A coastal garbage patch that washed ashore in Mumbai, in the Indian Ocean. A common site on Asian beaches. Source:

"Our oceans are about to collapse and there is not much time to turn it around. Nobody can solve this alone. Everyone has to be a part of the solution. And collaboration is the magic formula."

Parley For The Oceans

Parley For The Oceans


- Captain Paul Watson

A garbage patch in the North Atlantic. Source: The Telegraph

Design: Notice how the nets are part of the design, both functionally for durability - they are extremely strong - and aesthetically for the color, texture, and pattern.

Design Thinking: Design thinking is a problem solving process. It designs on many levels, and designs the levels. It designs the style and function of the product, but also the supply chains and the waste chains for the production, as well as the collaboration between organizations, and the way it is related to the public. In essence design thinking seeks to kill as many birds with one stone as possible (or save as many forms of sea life with a singular design system as possible).

Sustainability: At the center of design thinking is sustainability, the process of designing a multilayered system that seeks to benefit, in equal measure, Society, Environment and Economic interests.

The design thinking behind the Adidas Parley shoes also seeks to:

  • Increase awareness of the plastic problem

  • Increase awareness of illegal and unsustainable fishing

  • Add to the circular economy by collecting and reusing plastic

  • Create a new product which achieves the above goals while satisfying the necessary economics of producing and selling a viable product and making a profit.

  • Provide a solution to the interrelated problems of illegal and unsustainable fishing and waste plastics that are destroying the oceans.

The Point: Design Thinking can address the most complex problems. Design and people who care, not only can change the world, but can save the world.

Related Posts:

  • The Power of Design Thinking, Part 1

  • The Role of Design in the Circular Economy

  • Great Design that Decreases Waste and Increases Convenience

  • Innovations in Sustainable Packaging Design

  • Design Thinking: The Synergistic Combination of Beauty and Function

  • The Business Logic of Sustainability: Conscience + Sustainability = $489 Billion





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