The I-Prac Event Keynote Speaker

As I reflect on the remarkable insights shared by Dr. Lynn Wilson at the recent conference, I can’t help but be inspired by her profound impact not only on the event itself but also on the ongoing conversations subsequent to the event. The keynote address was a pivotal moment, offering a lens through which to understand both the history and the potential trajectory of our industry.

Dr. Wilson began by discussing Patrick Gettis, a holistic town planner who emphasised the lived experience in his designs. This approach resonated deeply with Dr. Wilson’s own extensive experience, particularly in championing consumer behaviour within the Circular Economy. She shared a compelling story about an initiative in Botswana, where she taught colour theory to the San people as they transitioned from a hunter-gatherer society. In doing so, Dr. Wilson navigated the delicate balance of communicating through action while being conscious of introducing synthetic paints to their society.

Her narrative skillfully illustrated the myriad innovative ways to rethink our approach to materials and consumption. Dr. Wilson shared a personal anecdote about her wedding ring, made from Canadian diamonds and recycled metal, contrasting it with a story about someone who eschewed physical jewellery altogether in favour of matching tattoos on the ring finger. This example brilliantly demonstrated the possibility of completely forgoing physical objects in favor of more sustainable, less materialistic alternatives.

Dr. Wilson then guided us through the fascinating world of brewed fibre and bio-synthetic materials, only to pose a critical question: Are we overcomplicating things? With a Hermes Silk scarf selling every 25 seconds, she challenged us to reconsider the abundance of natural fibers available to us. Dr. Wilson advocated for a revolutionary shift in consumption habits, emphasising the return to natural fibers that not only tell a story but are also locally manufactured. She underscored this point with a shawl she fashioned, woven with colours that narrated the story of earth’s elements, produced by a local B-corp mill, Prickly Thistle.

A particularly poignant moment came when Dr. Wilson highlighted the alarming statistic that 60% of our clothing is made from fossil fuel-derived polyester, underscoring the urgent need for change. She also stressed the importance of storytelling in engaging audiences, exemplified by a captivating anecdote about her favourite present – a Scorpion Teddy Bear, which served as an “emotional support tool.”

Drawing on Walter Stahel’s concept of the teddy bear effect, Dr. Wilson illustrated how we all cherish certain items for their emotional significance. This led to a profound question: How can we imbue all products with this ‘Teddy Bear Effect,’ making them cherished and lasting?

From a business perspective, Dr. Wilson highlighted the critical role of designers in observing product usage and addressing problems through innovative solutions. She emphasised using circularity as a tool to understand societal needs and foster sustainable consumer behaviour. Significantly, she reminded us that the answers to our sustainability challenges might be simpler than we think, not necessarily requiring futuristic inventions.

The conference was left buzzing with energy and positivity, largely thanks to Dr. Wilson’s insightful contributions. She posed pressing questions about consumer behaviour and product usage, urging more research to develop new business models that effectively address the climate crisis. Dr. Wilson’s keynote set a high bar for collaboration and innovation, leaving us all inspired and more knowledgeable about the path forward in our industry.