Emotionally Durable Design
Stain Tea Cups, Bethan Laura Wood, 2009 In our throw-away culture of consumption, the crisis of sustainability is at an all-time high. However, it seems to be more of a crisis of behavior, not just energy or materials alone. It can be traced back to our understanding that humans are …
In our throw-away culture of consumption, the crisis of sustainability is at an all-time high. However, it seems to be more of a crisis of behavior, not just energy or materials alone. It can be traced back to our understanding that humans are separate from nature. Jonathan Chapman explores this relationship in his book, Emotionally Durable Design. According to Chapman, one-fourth of the world’s resources have been stripped away in the past four decades.
Our material culture is based on the idea of guaranteed satisfaction or your money back. Currently, consumerism prevents the balance in the harmony of an object’s life. What if objects contained the ups and downs of our relationships with people, the changing seasons and the weather? Currently, there is no room for objects to misbehave, harnessing a more intimate relationship with an object that needs balance.
What if a design can focus to enhance the resilience between our relationships with products? Can the framework of designing durable products switch to designing for meaning and value? Emotional durability can influence our patterns, consumption, and waste. This makes me reflect on the values that are currently influencing my design process. If sustainability is the focus, then the social implications of post-industrial designers need to become a core consideration when designing. Every individual has the ability to recalibrate their design to align with what they value.
The following project from The Agency of Design focuses on the lifespan of a toaster. Each iteration evaluates how the designer, manufacturer and consumer communications to create a meaningful and emotionally durable experience of making toast.
This toaster is focused on simple assembly and disassembly. The material lifespan limit is recorded on the side of the toaster. It can be easily shipped back to the manufacturer to be repurposed again. After 8-9 uses, the material can no longer be used.