Design for the Circular Economy

Understanding the complexities of designing for a circular economy

Circular product design helps design professionals to improve the long-term sustainability performance of products. The key principle of the approach is 'designing out waste', fitting your product in a circular economy where the value of the product, its components, and its materials are maintained and not wasted.

[Spark Product Autopsy 2015]

This Masterclass helps you to understand the circular mindset and the role you can play as a design professional in the transition towards a circular economy. We will address implications for product design engineering using examples from practice, and provide research-based, practical design approaches and tools. You will explore the circularity of your own product and come up with circular-ready redesigns.

The sessions in this Masterclass offer a mixture of interactive lectures, tutorials and workshops with the aim to immerse you into the theory and practice of designing for a circular economy. You will work on your own case study to learn how to use the tools and methods taught.  


Learning Objectives

During this master class, you will:

  • understand the different end-of-life value-capture strategies involved in the circular economy;
  • understand how design can contribute to a circular economy;
  • apply tools and techniques to assess the ease-of-disassembly, product circularity and potential value capture;
  • apply different principles and strategies for circular product design;
  • reflect on ways to overcome the barriers for going circular.


  • Theory and practice of designing for a circular economy;
  • Circular product design tools and methods.



9:00 Registration and Welcome drinks
9:30 Introduction
Getting to know each other
10:00 Circular Economy and Product design Bas Flipsen & Ingrid de Pauw
Explore the core values of circular design for business
10:45 Break
11:15 Value recovery strategies Bas Flipsen
Understand the different value recovery strategies such as repair, refurbish, remanufacture, recycle. Discuss the role of reverse logistics, product modularity, and ease of disassembly.
12:00 Workshop 1A gentle dismantle Bas Flipsen
Asses to what extent your product design is ‘circular-ready’ by means of a gentle dismantle and the use of disassembly mapping.
13:00 Lunch
at 'Porceleyne Fles'

Workshop 1B identifying hotspots Bas Flipsen

Continue your analysis and applying hotspotmapping to identify the hotspots for a circular redesign in your product’s architecture.

15:30 Break

Workshop 1C redesign Bas Flipsen

Learn product architecture strategies and come up with suggestions to improve the circular readiness of your product, which you will pitch.

17:00 Plenary pitches, feedback & discussion, wrap-up
17:30 End of the first day
9:00 Welcome

Circular impact Ingrid de Pauw

Understand how you can determine the potential of different value recovery strategies for your product

10:15 Break

Workshop – 2A Circular Impact Ingrid de Pauw.
Assess the circularity of your current product-system, and explore the potential of different value recovery strategies, in terms of resource circularity and potential value capture.

12:30 Lunch
at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering
13:30 Workshop – 2B Redesign Ingrid de Pauw
Continue the exploration of circular strategies of an improved design and business model and finalize the development of a circular proposition for your case. Prepare a short pitch to share your findings.
15:30 Break
16:00 Plenary pitches & Closing Debate - How to implement insights into design practice Bas Flipsen & Ingrid de Pauw
Discussing key insights, opportunities, and bottlenecks for your design practice.
17:00 Closing and drinks
17:30 End of the Master Class

Practical Information

Participants receive the book "Products that Last" by Conny Bakker, Marcel den Hollander, Ed van Hinte and Yvo Zijlstra.

How to prepare
This is a highly practical course, in which we will use examples to guide you through the activities. You will apply what you learn to a product of your own. You will be asked to disassemble it and evaluate its circularity using the methods learned. Therefore we ask you to bring a product with you to the course (further details and tips for selecting a product will be shared with all participants).