EcoDesign Sprint in Saint Petersburg

In February 2020, Design Forum Finland continued piloting EcoDesign Sprints, this time in neighbouring Russia.

Our local project partner is Medina Art, whose long experience in the furniture sector brought us the client First Furniture Factory, a furniture company based in Saint Petersburg. The Sprint focused on the examination and development of First Furniture Factory’s kitchen and contract furniture manufacturing sector. The company had already participated in the EcoDesign Learning Factory training course and the EcoDesign Audit process developed in the EcoDesign Circle project.

The aim of this EcoDesign Sprint was to explore First Furniture Factory’s potential to transform its operations to conform with circular economy using design methods and to deepen the participants’ understanding of circular economy principles. This time, the Sprint took the form of a two-day workshop customised to meet the objectives of the company. The workshop was facilitated by the circular economy expert and co-founder of Ethica Oy Anne Raudaskoski.

Each EcoDesign Sprint workshop is tailored to meet the needs of the client company, but its body consists of short lectures on the principles of circular economy and ecodesign along with exercises using cooperative design methods. During the Sprint workshop, the participants learn about design and life cycle thinking and understand how to apply them in the development of their own products and services. The multidisciplinary and multinational workshop team (with participants from Russia, Estonia, Finland and Germany) was very motivated and focused throughout the Sprint. A speciality of the Saint Petersburg Sprint was a graphic facilitator who crystallised the ideas created in the workshop by drawing over the days. The illustrations clarified the results of the workshop and were particularly useful this time as not all participants had a common language. Thus, the presence of an interpreter was also essential!

During EcoDesign Sprint workshop the participants learn about design and life cycle thinking and understand how to apply them in the development of their own products and services.

As a result of the intensive workshop days, three initial circular economy concepts were developed for First Furniture Factory, related to the modular design of new products, a new service model for leasing products and better access to information intended for customers. The company will continue to develop these concepts under the leadership of its own design team and supported by a local circular economy experts. The aim is to implement prototypes of the concepts during the project.

The EcoDesign Sprint model has been tested with companies of various sizes and from various industries. There have been micro-enterprises of two people, small and medium-sized enterprises and large companies belonging to multinational groups. The industries of the companies have ranged from food, clothing, furniture and packaging to the manufacture of camping equipment. EcoDesign Sprints have been carried out in collaboration with larger design firms and companies’ in-house design teams. Working with such a wide range of companies has been made possible by the Sprint’s company-specific customisation. Our next challenge is to develop the Sprint’s methods to also meet the needs of companies providing digital services. If you are interested in EcoDesign Sprint, please contact us!


EcoDesign Circle 4.0 is an extension stage project in the framework of the Interreg Baltic Sea Region programme. It is co-financed by funds from the European Regional Development Fund, the European Neighbourhood Instrument and the Russian Federation. The Lead Partner is the German Environment Agency. Other partners are Design Forum Finland, Swedish Industrial Design Foundation, Estonian Design Centre, Medina Art, Pomeranian Science and Technology Park / Design Centre, International Design Center Berlin and Technische Universität Berlin. EcoDesign Circle 4.0 follows on from the 2016-2019 Interreg BSR project EcoDesign Circle and will run until January 2021.

Saija Malila
Producer, Service Designer 

Design Forum Finland

Photos: Elena Gontarenko & Marina Lebedeva / Medina Art