Want The Unwanted

The Hague July 2020
Royal Academy of Art, The Hague Master Industrial Design

KABK MASTER INDUSTRIAL DESIGN presents: WANT THE UNWANTED Online exhibition.

EXHIBITING DESIGNERS: Juilin Chang, Malin Dittmann, Arno Eiselt, Iris Hagel, Erco Lai, Job Oort, Lucie Ponard, Nicolas Vischi, Louw Visscher

Online Exhibition

How do designers relate to repair within their practice? How can designers define, and impact the social, cultural, economic and ecological links between repair and design? The online group exhibition Want the Unwanted is an exploration on the theme 'Design for a Repair Society'. Supported by designer Jesse Howard and curator Joanna van der Zanden (the Repair Manifesto) 9 designers from the Master Industrial Design at the Royal Academy of Art the Hague present their research, findings and designs. The projects are grouped by current behavior towards existing waste and objects designed to evoke a desire for maintenance and repair. Initiated before the pandemic, the works were originally planned to be showcased at the KB Atelier at the KB, National Library of the Netherlands.

RePurPose

How can I make unwanted Pp5 products interesting again?

Iris Hagel

Dealing with existing waste Group

Why I am part of this group:My project is about polypropylene plastic (PP5). In second hand shops is an overload of kitchenware made of this material. People don’t buy these products second hand because they are the same price new and it’s outdated. But I see the beauty in this material trough its shapes and colors it comes in so I wanted to give it a new purpose. The ma-terial can be melted together with just using heat so I created glue from the material but also used the existing sha-pes to create a lamp. Instead of recycling just the material I think it’s interesting to also look at the shapes and colors it is already made of and first look at those possibilities before recycling it al and waste the shapes it came in. I look at this material not as waste but as new beginnings and this is something I think we should do more.

Questions of Research:

How can I show the possibilities of the material in one object?How can we create one product al made from the same material so that there is no waste left?Why does something become unwanted?How do we look at these objects as new again?

While thinking of products that are unwanted I was immediately interested in the material plastic. Since this is one of the most unwanted materials of time. By making my topic more specific I chose the plastic type pp5. This material you can usually find in forms of cups, plates and other tableware. In thrift shops there are a lot of these but they are unwanted so I decided to give them a new purpose. Pp5 is recyclable and you can easily melt it. I wanted to create objects with the existing forms, because the colours and shapes they already have are beautiful. But I also used the objects as a connector by melting them and using them as glue. So by combining these two methods I created a new collection of objects called repurpose.

Playful E-waste Kits

How can I reuse unwanted electronic appliances in a creative way?

Erco Lai

Dealing with existing waste Group

Why I am part of this group:My focus is on the used electronic appliances in thrift shops, and I find out some issues after I surveyed some of the thrift shops in the Hague. On one hand, it is difficult for most of the thrift shops to repair or check the function of goods, and they will become trashes to landfills. On the other hand, the used appliances have less value and attraction so that a new way/business of reusing them is necessary.

Questions of Research:

How to recognize and salvage working components from the inside of E-waste?How to rearrange these components creatively?As a designer, how can I add value to these E-waste Kits?What kind of package makes the e-waste kit more attractive?What skill does the user need for E-waste Kits?How to increase the idea of e-waste kit more influence?Can this system of repurpose e-waste components become a new business model?Who is willing to join the business?

Electronic Reuse & CO: Why

Electronic products have some issues at the second-hand/thrift shops after I surveyed some of them in The Hague, Netherlands.

Firstly, it is difficult to check whether the appliances are fully-functioned or not because some stores lack knowledge or expertise. Checking or repairing appliances is also time-consuming. In this case, the shops will refuse people to donate electronic products or treat the products as other 'broken' rubbish. In a few stores, they will collect these domestic appliances and sell them to the specialist in E-waste recycling.

Secondly, the used products have less value. For customers, sometimes a new product is almost the same price as the used one, which discourages them from buying at thrift shops, let alone worries about clean or warranty.

What

Consequently, I put the focus on how to reuse unwanted electronic products in some ways. In my research, I find more interest in the inside, like PCB, motors, speakers/microphones...etc these components, than the outside. Dismantling appliances and salvaging working components are the main exercises of my research. Thinking a new combination of reusing these components instead of repairing them as old forms.

As we know recently, PCB can extract precious metals so more and more companies start the business of recycling E-waste. However, it needs an expensive machine/process and might produce toxic side-products.

In my practice, I try to reuse the components directly and create new applications from them. I believe this proposal can be a new business model of reusing E-waste.

How

I have an approach to how to reuse the components from unwanted appliances, which is making playful kits individually. For speaker/mic, it will be a kit of the noise-making box, also known as drum-thing, with other parts from the unwanted product. For motor, it can be a generator by rotating the shaft so it will be a kit of the power bank.

Furthermore, I propose that having a concept store which focuses on unwanted electronic appliances and specializes in dealing with E-waste. Workers/volunteers can do more jobs than clean, and the concept store will combine workshops, shops, and a gallery.

The New Old

How can past and present merge on the surface of old ceramics?

Lucie Ponard

Dealing with existing waste Group

Why I am part of this group:Ceramic dinnerware from the second hand shop are my work material. These plates and cups are in good condition but aren’t being sold anymore because their pattern look outdated. I worked on redesigning the surface of old ceramic dinnerware.

Questions of Research:

How to dismantle the previous pattern and give a new meaning to it?How can I transform the previous pattern into a new one?How can these ceramics show the passage of time?How can we merge past and present on the surface of the object?How to give these ceramics a new life while honoring the past one?Are objects markers of time?How is time contained in objects?How can I melt the ceramic’s pattern?How can I transform the surface while still letting the ceramic be usable?

Second hand shops are full of old ceramics that are in good condition but that nobody buy because they look outdated. What to design for a world of plenty ? I worked on redesigning the surface of old ceramic dinnerware using several methods. I dismantled the traditional pattern, distorting it, giving it a new meaning. With sandblasting, I erased some parts of the surface, transforming the previous pattern into a new one. I merged past and present on the dinnerware, by removing some parts of the surface, but letting the previous layer visible. With glazing, the previous pattern melts. It seems that it is carried away by the passage of time. Transfer paper adds a new layer onto the plate, that interacts with the previous print.

This project was also a reflection on how time is contained in objects. Sandblasting the surface is like erasing the previous memory, creating an empty screen on which the future user can project experience onto. Moreover, adding a new layer on the plate visualizes the process of experiences being projected on the product. The old and new pattern overlap as one. Indeed, the object can be perceived as a succession of different experiences projected into it. Objects are a proof that something happened before us, and a way to attest the reality of the past. They can be perceived as markers of the time. These new ceramic dinnerwares now visibly carry the trace of two different times: the time where it was created, and the time where it was re-created.

RePair

Are industrial products as closed to user intervention as we think?

Nicolas Vischi

Dealing with existing waste Group

Why I am part of this group:My project tries to avoid the unnecessary production of new objects, with the belief that there are already more than enough things around us, which are still open for new interventions that can give them a new life.

Questions of Research:

What happens if people try to repair things on their own?Are industrial products as closed (to user intervention) as we think?Is the new open design movement the answer?Have people actually been doing a kind of open design for many years?Do these intervened objects work the same way as the originals?Does that lead to more interesting and thus, long lasting products?

Are mass-produced products as closed to user intervention as we think they are? Can they be repaired in new, diverse, more accessible ways? Maybe we can avoid making new things in a number of situations. We would have a way to deal with existing things until open design becomes a reality. We can create more personal objects, all while rebelling against the imposed, and taking back control.

The verb repair comes from the Latin reparare "restore, put back in order" (from re "again" + parare "make ready, prepare"). But what if instead of restoring, we exercised re-pair? Where to pair is to combine two things to produce a particular result . By re-pairing we don’t simply repair. We can create not only new objects, but completely new typologies.

The re-pair station would be an addition or a complement to the repair cafés that have been going on for years. Here, parts from different broken objects can meet and form new relationships that may have seemed odd in the beginning, but that end up working for both the user and the object.

In recent years, an increasing number of designers have drawn inspiration from the field of software design and tried to apply the principles of open design and hacking to industrial design, as a way of fighting against planned obsolescence and its waste; of trying to connect the user to the product; of replacing globalised mass production with a local one. But unlike the case of software, product-wise there is still a long way to go until these open designs become widely available. And we still have an immense amount of objects to deal with on a daily basis. Are these products as closed as we think? Can we find a way to “open” these products and discover new ways to repair them, sowe can avoid throwing them away?

Products Maintenance: Aspects of Design

What should we care when we design maintenance?

Juilin Chang

New Designs to evoke the need and desire for repair

Why I am part of this group:My project focus on maintenance rather than repair. Maintenance is a process before object’s failure, which means before repair. However, according many literatures, repair and maintenance have been discussed in the same topic, as a method to extend longevity of products.

Questions of Research:

What is the boundary between maintenance and repair?What is the benefit if we do maintenance to prevent repair?How to design the decay of products?Can we build a relationship between our products by maintenance?

Pictures are my exploration for maintenance, I made the fluorescent lube for bicycle. I wish to add functional factor and joyful factor during maintaining.

Processor, when was the last time you have been touched?

Can the design create a feeling of our devices?

Malin Dittmann

New Designs to evoke the need and desire for repair

Why I am part of this group:My project addresses our behaviour towards essential products of our modern life which we use to ignore, mistreat and waste too easily. I am introducing a simple change in the design in order to make these products more present and desirable for us.

Questions of Research:

Are we disregarding common devices because of their appearance?Is their appearance mainly influenced by the used material?Can the covering material of our devices state our relation to them?How can the surface or material be used to create a communication between device and user?Can the surface or material operate as a communication tool to project our own mindfulness towards our objects which defines them?Would we behave more carefully with a common device if it reveals traces of our interaction?How could “invisible” daily devices like the keyboard be made “visible” again?Can tactile perception help to make us paying attention to devices that we are likely to disregard?Can we build a stronger relation to our device over our tactile perception?

The keyboard is essential to live our modern life, it serves us as the translator between us and the computer, the internet which means in general the rest of the world. As important as it is in function, the keyboard suffers from being less important than the computer and its dull appearance. The close-fitting plastic dress of our devices bores or even annoys us already after a short while. We desire a change, not in the functionality but in the imagery and therefore, most fully working keyboards are ending up in the garbage.

Electronic devices of today are not designed for eternity.

Updates and changing trends assure their obsolescence in no time. However, the keyboard serves a necessary and important function, that hasn’t been changed since its invention. But its secondary position underneath the computer makes it a paradoxical invisible everyday object. Its lifetime is mostly bonded to the lifetime of the greater device which nowadays has become much shorter. Additionally, the used material often does not age well, scratched plastic for example will make us want to replace the device (and its keyboard attached to it).

Can our madness of throwing away perfectly working but disregarded devices be changed by bringing them back into our consciousness through a different appearance? A cover we sense and pay attention to, that signifies us to care and maintain for it. We might not perceive our keyboard through our eyes, but for sure by touch. Our tactile experience can be influenced when the dull plastic is changed to a familiar and comfortable material like textile which we are willing and able to care for.

What if the keyboard becomes a personal statement-object?

The circuits can be easily removed, therefore its guise can be replaced or adapted as soon as our preferences in aesthetic changes. Textile will show traces of our usage which will indicate when it is time to maintain the surface by washing or stitching it. Repairing and cleaning are caring actions that strengthens our relationship with the device and can prevent us from disregarding it as we do with the anonymous plastic cover. The keyboard can be turned into a personal object which is embedded in our daily life by its function and its appearance.

Its new dress might let us take a second look at it, touch it differently in order to maintain a healthier and long-lasting relation between us and our devices.

When 100 office computers are updated or replaced by newer versions, 100 of perfectly working keyboards are sent to their early death to the dumpster. Their guise is in fact a disguise, totally ignored by us although it’s absolutely necessary function. The covering plastic is just good enough to hold it together through its lifetime as well as it is responsible for more material waste when this life “ends”. Waste, that yet is not recyclable and toxic, considering the electronic parts inside.

This waste is immense and unnecessary, knowing that since its invention only 2 parts from the keyboard are needed to function: the PCB-Board and the circuit-foil. They are almost never touched and hold for a lifetime if we would let it survive that long. To achieve this, it needs to grasp our attention, we need to sense, see and feel it again. Therefore, I propose that our tactile experience can influence how we approach our devices and explored how textiles can influence our desire for maintenance for our disregarded devices.

Don’t screw around!

What if we could repair everything?

Arno Eiselt

New Designs to evoke the need and desire for repair

Why I am part of this group:I have taken a closer look at one of the most used products today: a senseo coffee maker. It became clear to me that the issues in connection with planned obsolescence, limited repairability and inevitably the production of a large amount of waste can be transferred to many other modern products. It was my goal to investigate in what form the dependence on large profit driven manufacturers could be minimized by democratizing design and spreading it amongst the users and independent parties. Can we reestablish a connection with our products through design for repairability and if so, what would such a coffee maker look like?

Questions of Research:

How can the user be motivated and interested in his product to get it repaired?How can the end user become the designer?How can we reestablish a connection with our products?How can we motivate repair instead of disposal?Is it worth repairing the product or should I get a new one instead?Is there appropriate repair information: access to service manuals and software?How and where can the end user obtain the information and knowledge?Is there access to spare parts, hardware of product and components?Is there access to general and company specific tools?How can consumer friendly services increase repairs?What materials are suited for the end user?

The “what if” materialised as food for thought.

During the course of our lives we choose to repair some products by exchanging only a single broken part for a working one. However, we replace other products as a whole, without hesitation, due to one (tiny) part being broken, which seemingly can’t be fixed. Thus creating an increasing amount of waste.

To counter this, repair cafes and fab labs provide expertise and tools to the average citizen who has a limited understanding of manufacturing, maintaining or repairing a product. Environmentally conscious enterprises, with the aid of crowdsourcing and internet communities invite the individual to become part of a local as well as a global network. The aim is to rethink and evolve the way products are being (collectively) designed, consumed and repaired instead of carelessly tossed out.

By involving the individual in the repair and redesign processes we can reestablish a connection with our products through understanding how they work, while motivating care for them and ultimately for our planet.

The prototype of the coffee msker should function as one materialised example of the extreme opposite to modern devices (which could be applied to a wider range of modern products) in the sense of:

  • Production:
    Modern, industrially mass produced products usually are not constructed to last and through their increasingly complex design don't encourage repair.
  • Result:
    One consumer friendly production technique - Laser cutting from one piece of wood or pmma etc...

  • Not understanding our products:
    The injection molded cases are intended to also function as a barrier, disconnecting us from the insides of our product and prohibiting us from understanding it. In addition, we don't recognize at which point in time maintenance is required.
  • Result:
    No screws, no click finger, no pressed joining techniques. Maintenance hatch for reaching the internal mechanism.

  • Maintenance & Repair:
    The lack of specialized tools in every household and the fear of breaking this seemingly impenetrable case, are usually enough to discourage us from attempting repair. Overpriced or unavailable replacement parts don't encourage the user either. Outsourcing the repair to skilled technicians at a repair shop may seem like no option most people, as the related costs are usually relatively high compared to the cost of a new device.
  • Result:
    No specialized tools needed for assembly, maintenance, repair or disassembly. Tools found in any household or obtainable from any hardware store should suffice. The information on how to repair the device is available and should be known through having built the device as well.

  • Materials & Recyclability:
    Modern products, made up of many different parts and materials, which are difficult to take apart and recycle efficiently, may be discarded without hesitation by the end user and end up in landfills, contributing to an ever growing waste problem.
  • Result:
    One main material. All parts can be disassembled easily and recycled accordingly.

  • Obsolescence:
    A large quantity of industrially produced products are not designed to last. In fact, many of them are designed with an artificially limited lifespan to ensure they become obsolete. This is referred to as planned or emotional obsolescence. For example, the Philips Senseo coffee maker, is sure to break down due to a small magnet located in the water tank, which will inevitably rust. In addition, the integrated capacitor is a predetermined breaking point as it might fail due to irregular voltage spikes in our power circuits.
  • Result:
    No predetermined breaking points. Only a simple flow through water heater and basic electronic soldering. Open source arduino for ultimate control.

Implementation methods:

  • ● Repair cafes
  • ● Fab labs in the form of workshops
  • ● Online distribution for self teaching instructables
  • ● At museums for functioning as an eye opening for the public

Implemented intervention systems:

  • ● Maintenance hatch
  • ● Cut out patterns for round corners
  • ● Click mechanisms for stability
  • ● Modularity for housing different heating elements

Desire for Repair
- A Gift for Living, a Gift for Life

How to design for Emotional Durability?

Job Oort

New Designs to evoke the need and desire for repair

Why I am part of this group:Upon starting this project centred around the theme of creating ‘design for repair’ I quickly realised that a more fundamental challenge is to create ‘desire for repair’. Making things repairable only makes sense if we are actually willing to repair it too. That is why my project focuses on how to design for emotional durability which – according to my design research – is key to a products longevity.

Questions of Research:

How can repair become desirable?When was repair still desirable?Why did repair stop being desirable?How to build a relationship with an object?How to make that relationship last?How would a water kettle look like if it was designed purely for emotional durability?

As a testament to our overconsumption, electronic waste has become our fastest growing waste stream. The old ways of designing for durability, where the focus is primarily on materials and energy efficiency, have not done their job. Products are still being thrown away left, right and centre.

The reason for this is that the emotional durability of our products has been neglected: sustainable design has focused solely on physical durability for too long. This is a shame since the physical durability of an object usually only comes into play when a product has already proved to be emotionally durable. The most essential requirement for a long product lifespan is that an emotional bond needs to form between the user and the product. Only then will products be able to resist constantly changing consumer desire.

This is why I believe that when we want to design for longevity, we should design for lasting desires. The goal of designing should be to create as intimate a connection as possible between man and product. The user has to be closely involved in the process that the product is intended for, instead of merely pressing a button and waiting for the result. The user should be able to truly grasp the functionality as well as the construction of the product.

Our attitude towards everyday household appliances should change to a point where we are able to see these products as pieces of jewellery that age like a good wine.

What Makes Us Care?

How could design increase the memory forming with a product?

Louw Visscher

New Designs to evoke the need and desire for repair

Why I am part of this group:A lot of products that are discarded nowadays are still functioning well. They often get replaced because they look out of date or we just grew bored of it. But there are some exceptional objects for most of us that bear special meaning, the objects we don’t want to replace but repair because we are emotionally attached to it. I was curious what determines why we care for one object and discard the other, and how we could design to increase the emotional bonds between a user and a product.

Questions of Research:

What do our products tell about us?How could design stimulate memory forming through wear and passive personalisation?How could design stimulate memory forming through active personalisation?How could design stimulate memory forming by creative user investment?How could design stimulate memory forming through gifting?How design stimulate the association of a products with our friends and family?How could these strategies be applied in the design process.

The emotional bond people have with their products – the user-product attachment – is a key influencer on how people behave towards topics as product maintenance, -repair or -replacement. From an environmental point of view user-object attachment therefore is an important design aspect.

An important element in the valuation of a product, are the memories we associate with it. That shirt we bought in that small little shop on our holiday, the watch we inherited from our grandpa or those plates that we decorated ourselves that one summer holiday when we were just recovering from some emotional heavy times.

The memories we associate with objects give it a deeper value, a meaning on top the material and functional properties of an object. In this research a variety of design strategies are explored to increase the user-product attachment through memory-forming.

If a person experiences a strong relationship with a product, he/she is more likely to care for the product, repair it when it breaks down, and postpone its replacement.

Wear.

The products we use tell us about our past, about our personality; the scratch on our leather jacket may remind us of that one amazing night with friends where we went a bit to wild. A designer can choose materials that age with dignity, wood, for example, ages better then plastic. The marks of a shared history of the owner with the product can serve as a carrier of memories, a carrier of habits, and a memory of who we are.

Active Personalization.

Products are not merely functional objects, but convey important signals in human relationships. Our possessions communicate information about who we are, or want to be, and tell stories about our past life. They convey meaning, reflect values, and contribute to human identity. It is for this reason that we like to personalize our objects, telling our surroundings who we are; stickers on our laptop that show us what we care about, friends writing in our yearbook reminding us with who we have been, or patches on a denim jacket that show us where we have been.

Creating.

The more consumers can act as co-designers of their product, the more effort they will invest in the product, the stronger the emotional bond is and the more likely it becomes that they want to use them for a longer length of time.

Ruth Mugge states in Emotional bonding with personalized products, (2009) that: The investment of a person’s mental effort will often bring about stronger emotional bonds than the investment of physical effort, because being creatively involved in the personalization process results in a unique product with a personal touch and self-expressive value. In contrast, products that demand only physical effort, such as IKEA products, may result in products that lack a personal touch. Consequently, the emotional bonds experienced with these products will generally be weaker.

A product that not only offers a medium for creative involvement but even demands it is the Do Scratch lamp by Kessels Kramer and Droog design. For the lamp to function as a light, the lamp demands the act of scratching something in the black paint covering the lamp. To postpone the function until the user had a creative interaction with it is a provoking strategy to stimulate active and personal memory forming with a product, however the provocation and the fear of failing might prove too strong.

An example that Mugge uses to show a company with a good balance between the product’s self-expressive value and the complexity of the personalization process is Freitag (http://www.freitag.ch).

Freitag sells bags that are made out of recycled truck tarpaulins. Consumers can create a bag by positioning stencils on the tarpaulins that are available at that moment (see Figure 4). During the ‘design process’, the person can see which pieces of the tarpaulins are still available and which are already used for other bags. Because each part of each tarpaulin can only be used for one bag, every bag is unique.

The personalization method Freitag uses is convenient, but the creative limitations in the personalization process also mean that there is less freedom for personal associations to be made with the product.

Receiving.

The first moment of contact with the product is very important because it provides the first occasion for physical contact with the product, thus opening the possibility for memories to be formed. When a product is received as a gift, the moment itself often is already special, gift-giving often happens at a special occasion or from a special person, it is therefore likely that the gift itself evokes the memories of that memorable event or the special person. However, possessions received as gifts often only have weak attachments. For a gift to become a high attachment product, the personal identity of the receiver should be reflected in the gift. The success of gift therefore depends on the givers capacity to judge what kind of product the receiver would like to have. Because this is not under the designers control, design for gift giving with strong user-object attachments in mind might prove difficult.

Heirloom objects often remember us about our family and the memories we share with them. Nowadays the tradition of personalized heirloom seems to be fading slowly. Jewelry and silver cutlery, often gifted as heirloom, were often personalized by the engraving initials or a family weapon. Design for heirloom could be an interesting design strategy to investigate; finding a long-term sustainable business model for heirloom could be challenging issue.

Group associations.

Noticeable in all proposed design strategies is that strong product attachment memories are associated with things that we like. Even more than just objects associated with our personal interest, we like objects associated with our personal social circle, like our friends and family.

To increase the number of associations with people we like means to design products that will be used in a social context and encourage interaction between people. Just like the Lego or the other toys we used to play with when we were younger reminds us of the people we played with when we were a child.

The writing on the Do scratch lamp in Figure 7 could be used to facilitate group interaction as well, maybe someone got the lamp for his/her birthday and all the friends and family at the party write their best wishes on the lamp. The occurrence of these sort of events, however, is depended on elements that most often lay outside of reach of the designer’s control.

Conclusion.

This paper explored different strategies to enhance the memory-forming in relationship to a product; thus creating a strong and long-lasting user-product relationship. Not all strategies apply to the same range of products; some products are more suitable to a specific strategy than another. However surprising designs could be found if one tries to imagine multiple ways of shaping a product to fit with each design strategy specifically. In this way new and innovative products could be created that increase the likelihood to be repaired, or decline the replacement over superficial reasons.