Maybe it was jet lag, or the incipient echo of Al Gore’s recently revealed truth. Meetings devoted to diaper design might have played a part, though SkyMall’s seatback brand of captive consumerism cannot be discounted. Whatever the catalyst, while circling in the skies above Denver International Airport, Valerie Casey’s crisis of conscience hit critical mass: “What am I going to do?” she despaired. “I can’t design another thing.”
She then proceeded to do exactly that: Her “Kyoto Treaty” of design—which has matured over the last year and a half into The Designers Accord—was created before the plane touched down.
The Designers Accord is Casey’s nonprofit global initiative to instill awareness of, and foster dialogue about, the environmental and social impact of designer-client relationships. By adopting the Accord, designers commit to impressing upon their clients the idea that sustainability is more than a marketing tool—it’s intrinsic to the integrity of their products, and to the subsequent evaluation of their success. The pooling of knowledge and resourc-es is another important tenet, with the ultimate goal being to establish an online brain trust for designers all over the world.
Casey—now at Ideo after 15 years of experience with industry icons like Pentagram and Frog Design—considers the Accord a holistic approach to problem solving. “Designers are very competitive individually, and view themselves as something of mythmakers. It’s incredibly gratifying to see everyone playing by the same rules in pursuit of a common goal.”
At the heart of that goal lies the question: “How can we make something so valuable that you never want to get rid of it?” It seems Valerie Casey may now have found an answer.