Circular Economy in Industrial Design Research: A Review

K.C.E. van Dam (Corresponding author), Luca Simeone, Duygu Keskin, Brian Baldassarre, Monia Niero, Nicola Morelli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In the past decades, industrial design practice and research have focused extensively on how to optimize production and consumption, as a way to prevent negative environmental impacts, such as resource depletion, pollution, and excessive waste. Recently, the “circular economy” concept is increasingly used to achieve environmental benefits and economic growth simultaneously. Industrial design can contribute to a circular economy by fostering systems changes to achieve durability, optimal reuse, refurbishment, remanufacturing, and recycling of products and materials. Indeed, researchers have examined both the theoretical and practical aspects of how design knowledge can support the transition to a circular economy. However, this body of knowledge has not been systematically analyzed yet. To address this critical gap, this paper poses the following question: How has industrial design research so far contributed to advancing the circular economy knowledge? Accordingly, we survey relevant design literature focusing on the circular economy, through a review of contributions published in 42 scientific journals. Based on our results, we discuss how industrial design practices can potentially contribute to a circular economy across four thematic areas: (1) design for circular production processes, (2) design for circular consumption, (3) design to support policy towards the circular economy, and (4) design education for the circular economy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10279
Number of pages19
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2020


  • Circular design
  • Circular economy
  • Design education
  • Design research
  • Industrial design
  • Literature review
  • Policy support
  • Sustainable design


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