Rotate your phone

Once that’s done you’ll be able to experience the Design Skillnet website perfectly.


Q&A with Stephan Clambaneva

30 April 2021
back to blog
Stephan Clambaneva

Q&A with Stephan Clambaneva


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I describe myself as a design-hybrid: a holistic systems-thinking design strategist, inventor, π-shaped [pi=Design+Sustainability], design-value evangelist, who looks at the world through a wide angled lens. I live in New York with my wife and 5 year old son.

I am a thinker & a doer, and my global experience includes working for IBM and Dassault Systemes, leading Digital Transformation, Experience Design and Innovation projects. My expertise spans the entire product development lifecycle from ideation, innovation & design thinking, through engineering, manufacturing and sustainability, working with fortune 500 companies across industries including consumer products, high-tech, commercial aviation, mobility, fashion & retail.

I serve on advisory boards of startups, am Lead & Specialist Mentor for 4 accelerators including the German Accelerator, NUMA and GreekTech, was elected Board Member & Vice President for IDSA and serve on the steering committee for NY Design Week, NYCxDesign.

I speak at conferences worldwide and publish papers on Mobility, Augmented Reality, Design Thinking, Innovation, Product Lifecycle Mgmt., ID, Eco-Design, and Sustainability including SxSW, DMI Design Leadership Conference, IDSA International Design Conference, Innovation Summit, and Augmented World Expo to name a few.

What has been your favourite innovation project to-date?

My favorite project to date is the one I am currently working on. It allows me to blend design with holistic systems thinking and sustainability across all three arcs of design for sustainability – strategy, process and product experience. It is Design with a capital D ( which includes many design disciplines (product, interior, landscape, furniture and even architecture ) for sustainability for a large luxury eco hotel complex in southern Europe.


In terms of adopting more sustainable practices, where should designers start first?

Designers must start with their process first. How do they design? What is their methodology? What are their strong suits? Then we can go from there to begin their process of transformation. For example they can then select which of  the 17 SDGs do they want to be influenced by?


Who would you cite as key influences or mentors in your career?

I have had the honor of having many mentors over the years, depending on the area of focus. One that I feel the most indebted to has to be the late Bill Moggridge and Mark Dziersk . While design icons outright, they were so giving to me and were always so generous with their time.

In addition, I would have to mention my former boss, Anne Asensio who took me under her wing and selflessly allowed me to build my design chops during my tenure at the Design Studio of Dassault Systemes.


What part does design play in the bigger picture of the circular economy?

As I said during the inaugural IDSA Sustainability Deep Dive, Decades of global human activity and the expanding greenhouse effect have created a situation that needs to be addressed with more urgency than ever. We KNOW design can help. Action must be taken today if we have any hope of creating paths forward to a sustainable future.

If we take for granted that we are living both in the age of the experience and the Anthropocene, this adds tremendous pressure to designers today who can no longer just act as stylists or simply create beautiful objects in a vacuum. Furthermore, many studies confirm that approximately 90% of the lifecycle costs are determined in the initial 10% of the product development process. This is where design takes place, so designers no longer have the luxury of ignoring downstream operations or the unintended consequences of their decisions. “Throwing things over the fence” is no longer an option.

As the developers of products and services used by billions of people around the world, industrial designers also hold a crucial position: one that demands we look for ways in which our work can ignite social, cultural, and institutional change. By leveraging our resources, processes, and voice as designers, we can establish new ways of thinking and methodologies in our studios, companies, and corporate settings that, in turn, can help to ensure the ongoing health of our planet and its precious resources.


What are the key trends to watch out for as we move to a post-covid world?

I would answer this with a note of caution. Do not let this once in a century opportunity to make a systemic change pass us by. We are going to see more technological advancement in these next 10 years than in the previous 50. But we need a balanced approach. A people planet profit approach ensuring a measurable triple bottom line. It will be known as “the roaring 2020ies”. It’s going to be a fun ride! Just watch!


You can find Stephan on Twitter and IG @CLAMBANET

Want to know more about what designers can do to pave the way for a greener future?
Check out The Green Deal Design Manifesto, complementary for members – tickets available here.


Find out how Design Skillnet can help you become more creative, human-centred, and impactful within your organisation.