Design and interdisciplinarity for sustainable and innovative valorization of agro-industrial waste and residues
Authors: Barbara Pizzicato, Elena Cioffi, Severina Pacifico, Mario Buono
Abstract: The paper aims to deepen the debate regarding the design discipline in relation to science, especially focusing on the possible outcomes generated by a concerted action between design and science in addressing the urgent environmental issues.In the research context, interdisciplinarity encourages new results and synergies through the exchange of knowledge and the construction of new paths, also promoting the adoption of different perspectives other than established research perspectives and paradigms. It brings together different scientific approaches, skills, methods and expertise to deal with complexity, to master technical challenges and to carry out research with different complexity levels. Although design is intrinsically interdisciplinary, nowadays the figure of the designer is changing, moving from the role of central planner to that of a participant in the design of complex systems. The boundaries of design as a discipline tend to blur more and more, with designers markedly approaching and operating at the intersection of other disciplines, researching, and even experimenting on matter first hand in their works.However, although there is a lot of data and insights on collaborative research programs, there is a lack of empirical evidence on how to best implement interdisciplinarity, on the added value it produces and on how to overcome narrow disciplinary restrictions.The difference between design and scientific research processes is well-established in design literature, it contrasts design and science on the basis that science is concerned with understanding real needs generally describing the nature course, and design is about using possibilities to create new particular conditions (e.g. a new product).These considerations lead to a critical reflection: if the scientific future occurs out of legitimate necessity, then how does the role of the designer take shape in this scenario, beyond the more recognized contribution of design to scientific research such as constructing models of representation and simulation, designing artifacts for testing and experimentation, ideating scenarios, visualizing scientific ideas and helping to disseminate scientific knowledge? The design can actively join scientific research by bringing new inputs, finding new applications for scientific research outcomes, providing means of experimentation and reflection, challenging scientists’ perceptions and encouraging the pursuit of new research directions. The topic of the sustainable valorisation of agro-industrial waste and by-products – which counts numerous examples in literature- is presented as a case study of virtuous collaboration between design and science. The agro-industrial sector represents a driving force in the global economy however, it is accompanied by remarkable amounts of residues and waste generated by agronomic practices and industrial manufacturing which, according to sustainability and circularity principles, can be transformed into valuable resources through systemic approaches. In particular, the opportunities generated by the collaboration between chemists and designers for the extraction of bioactive compounds from biomasses of the wine and edible flowers production chain are discussed, through the adoption of sustainability and circularity principles through the entire process, as well as a further critical thinking about the recovery of the organic matrix waste generated in laboratory, wherever possible, to solicit design applications.
Keywords: Design and science, Interdisciplinarity, Agro, industrial waste valorization, Circular design, Circular Economy, Design for sustainability
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