Philip White, IDSA

Philip White, IDSA
Chair, Sustainability Section
Assistant Professor, Arizona State University

Philip White, IDSA, is an ecological design strategist who develops ecologically intelligent products and systems. He helps students, practitioners and companies apply ecodesign strategies and advanced environmental impact assessment methods. 

White organized the development of the Okala Ecological Design Curriculum, and in 2013, co-authored Okala Practitioner, a primer used by more than 40 schools of product design around the world. In 2014, White co-edited and co-authored Environmental Life Cycle Assessment: Measuring the Impacts of Products. He has earned honors including IDSA's International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) and Red Dot and holds 14 patents.

As an assistant professor at Arizona State University, White teaches courses on design for ecology and social equity, industrial design focusing on low-impact system design, life cycle assessment and design for The Circular Economy. How does he describe the next generation of designers? "The realities of modern environmental damage are increasingly palpable," says White. "Hurricanes of unprecedented scale and intensity; floating oceanic plastic waste gyres the size of Texas; the large-scale melting of two-million-year-old glacial ice. Although some designers feel numbed by the immensity of the global environmental crisis, many are dedicated to find opportunities and make solutions. These designers are the rock stars!"

White chairs IDSA's Sustainability Section and established a partnership between IDSA and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He is a longtime member of IDSA; he joined the Society in 1996. "IDSA is an incredibly receptive network where designers can explore the responsibility of designers, which can be traced in many respects to 1999 IDSA Personal Recognition Award winner Victor Papanek and his interactions with IDSA in the 1970s and 1980s," says White. "IDSA affords the best way establish a dialogue with the dispersed members of our influential discipline."

Why should designers join IDSA’s Sustainability Section? "You can become more informed of emerging trends in environmentally-related design topics," he explains. "To name a few: What do the 2017 Chinese used material import restrictions mean for US recycled material feedstock markets? With the United Kingdom, Germany, and France all planning to phase-in electric automobiles and phase out fossil-fueled automobiles by 2040, what can we learn about building the burgeoning electrical charging infrastructure in the United States? In what ways can designers support the transition to renewable energy and The Circular Economy?"

He hopes the Sustainability Section can be a forum to discuss critical environmental issues and design strategies; a place to find like-minded designers for ideas and moral support. "Set against the ongoing tragedy that is the American political system, this is immeasurably satisfying," says White.