The literature on sustainability often focuses on its technical side, such as in studies of life cycle assessment, supply chain management and cleaner production systems. It traditionally assumes that creativity and sustainability are two separate entities in organizations. Contrasting with this implicit assumption, this study analyses the process of how aesthetics serve as a mediating tool to translate individual creativity into sustainable messages within and beyond the organization. Empirical evidence is drawn from the Brazilian luxury fashion house Osklen. Aside from introducing the conceptual construct of aesthetic mediation, the paper also proposes a methodological contribution: by combining interviews with aesthetic inquiry, the article pushes the boundaries of ‘traditional’ qualitative methods. The aim is to encourage sustainable entrepreneurship and organization scholars to expand their methodological horizon in order to capture the emotionally charged, value-laden processes they study. Through a two-level coding of Osklen fashion collections forged through aesthetic inquiry, this study conceptualizes the process of aesthetic mediation in terms of four sequential practices: opening up to inspiring phenomena, having an epiphany, connecting to a sustainability message and translating the message into a tangible product. In particular, the translating a sustainability message into a tangible product involves the support of three techniques: preservation, transformation and adding novelty. The authors conclude by drawing general implications for developing and communicating sustainability messages in organizations.
- Aesthetic inquiry
- Aesthetic mediation