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Why? Why? Why?

February 18, 2009

Maybe I should start an FAQ section, but I am frequently asked these questions

(1) What does design have to do with collecting trash?

(2) What is so wrong with throwing something in the trash?

(3) How is keeping trash in your room helping anything… ?

Okay honestly, an invisible jaw of mine drops every time I hear these questions. It really pisses me off that people still think designers just “make things look pretty”. On that note, this research project is more about education rather than scorning, I just had to let a little of that designer fury out.

(1) Industrial designers make products. There is a whole life cycle of a product to consider in addition to aesthetics/appearance.  So when the appearance of a new product is all set, it is manufactured, packaged, shipped, and then sold. Then someone buys that product, uses it, and then (depending on what product) throws it away when he/she is done with it. A product that is thrown away is STILL a product. Someone designed it! It is an industrial designers job to consider the “garbage” process of his/her product too.

Sometimes I wonder, “If I had not gone to design school, would I even care about the life cycle of products?” Probably not. I would probably buy them and toss them out too without even thinking about it. But how many landfills can the earth hold? I don’t want to find out. In this generation, we all start off with a “consumer” mentality. Seriously, from our first diaper (which was designed, mass manufactured, and disposed of). It is kind of creepy to think about, but there is a certain standard of how to interact with products that we start practicing at a very young age>> (1) Buy. (2) Use. (3) Garbage. Let’s change this standard.

(2) Excess trash and overflowing landfills = pollution. Very bad. Very Very bad. A lot of products that have been disposed of (made of non-biodegradable materials like plastic) last forever. So if we keep filling up landfills with trash that we throw away, we are going to run out of space. Re-visit my research presentation for more on this: “Closed Loop” Experiment Presentation

I think eventually people will learn to see products as a USER rather than consumer. There is a big difference between the word “user” and “consumer”. The word “user” means that someone bought a product and is using it for a function/purpose. After they use it for that function, what happens? So perhaps the definition implies that a “user” has room to think and decide what happens after a product’s purpose is fulfilled. The word “consumer” is a bit misleading. If you “consume” something, it is gone; you have used it all up. But, this isnt true of most products, when you “consume” them they do not disappear. Yet, we use the word “consumerism” to describe the current economic movement (and mentality).

(3) Keeping the trash in my room is simulating the pollution that is occurring. As a designer, it is really making me think about the future products I may design. What are the things I want to throw away? How can they be designed differently so they are more sustainable and less disposable? Or how I can I make disposable items more biodegradable? How do I feel in this environment? What if every user did not produce any trash? Are there other purposes for items I throw away? It is a process and an experience that I am going through for inspiration.

Hopefully this post was a little educational about why I am doing this research project. Whew sorry that was a long one.

One Comment leave one →
  1. cristina! permalink
    February 22, 2009 02:00

    my invisible jaw drops too…

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