I can’t remember the last time I went to a design conference where I didn’t see a new software demonstration. At Design Week Portland there wasn’t one. Instead there were 24 speakers during the weekend, and only a few were local design professionals. They came to talk and engage about topics that designers don’t often associate with design: protests, butchering, transgender issues, bonsai trees, funding for women, and being honest in your presentations.
Design takes place in constantly different forms daily, but sometimes we forget how much it actually impacts our world. I have a background in the organic food industry, so when Anya Fernald, CEO of Belcampo, talked at Design Week about her struggles of creating a sustainable meat company, I was hooked. She discussed how she had to go through all the challenges of design, whether it being the best structure for chickens to get outside or rotating cattle to not over graze. She raises her animals more than twice as long as the average farmer and they never eat feed, just 100% grass. This means her products are priced nearly four times higher than the competition and she has the challenge of explaining the value of their products (as many of our clients do). She is working hard to understand her clients: the land, animals and consumer, and to create the right end result.
Since 2012 Belcampo has been growing thanks to Anya’s ingenious ways. She has brought creative thinking to construct a completely new approach to an old industry and turned Belcampo into a 20,000 acre sustainable empire.
Despite being told she couldn’t farm the way she does, Anya and Belcampo have succeeded. She is committed to doing what’s right for the animals, her beliefs and the business — not just what makes the most money. Sometimes the path isn’t clear or easy, but working tirelessly for what is right for the client is what needs to be done.
Design Week Portland brought some great industries to light and inspired us to incorporate design thinking where we might not think it would work.