Buy it, use it, break it, fix it, Trash it, change it, mail – upgrade it.


Earlier in the class we discussed the dilemma of positive and negative incentive in the context of American society and environmental issues. The issue of California’s plastic bag tax came up. The intentions are good and very responsible, yet due to the nature of the transaction the result is negative. Incentive becomes about not being penalized, rather then the common good. This idea of punishment for wrong over reward for right has never appealed to me.

So i began to think about how you could create a positive incentive for consumers to conserve their objects. How it could be a series of decision and actions that relate directly to the individuals wants and needs. The Japanese fishing coat became my model, through repair, it became more beautiful, individual and strong, these are positive incentives. I found this idea so romantic, that maybe as you interact with the repair of this objects you yourself could become connected to the object itself. Unfortunately these first romantic incentives are not the ones that fuel American’s actions, for a society today, cost and convenience take the cake.

I began to think how can I incorporate all these positives together in my field of product design?

I have often been at friend’s apartments when the legs of stool or chairs give out. I often berate my friends and former roommates for throwing these objects out. They tell me that the objects don’t matter, a new piece is the solution. Today we see and define broken as any harm befallen upon an object. Often if a structurally useless component breaks or the object has simply come apart, the consumer will swear it has bitten the dust. I try to explain this to my friends, the chair did not break, a piece broke, or the mortise and tenon joints have come apart. Often these simple problems can be fixed with minimal effort, a small application of wood glue, patch etc. Yet they go in the trash, to this day I have never saved a friend’s chair.

I intend to draw up a business plan that will manifest in a design for a stool and kit. Inspired by the fisherman’s jacket. I want to design a plan that would encourage consumers to repair their own objects through convince and positive incentive. What I propose is furniture sold in a flat pack kit with instructions, tools and replaceable parts and patches that could be customized by the user. The kit creates convince and once the consumer needs more supplies they can order as small parts, saving them the cost of investing in an new piece. So as the objects lives and “breaks” the user can begin to create their own collogue making the object a reflection of their self. I hope by creating an emotional connection through customer involvement and individuality in design through repair, these objects could hold their ground in a home despite breakage, and could potentially become heirloom objects.

– moira

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