Thursday, March 19, 2009

Get Your Fix On

Dutch design collective Platform 21 has done something you don't see that much anymore--they wrote a manifesto.  Manifestos tend to be a bit petulant, and hence have a short life span (the communist one not withstanding).  But this one has legs.  Maybe its because it's good old fashioned stinginess repositioned as a mentality.  I love it.  I especially like #2, about designing for repair.  Its no secret that durability is a far more potent sustainable practice than recyclability or even being made from recyclable materials.

Herman Miller's decision to make the Eames shells out of recyclable, but also more scratchable, less luxurious feeling plastic always bothered me.  When was the last time you saw a fiberglass Eames shell in the garbage?  My orange rocker is on its second base and third set of rubber pucks.

Design for repairability is a huge opportunity that spans from materials and finishes to creating objects simple enough to fix.  For example, the heater broke in my 1999 BMW.  I had to buy a $500 computer to fix it (and its still glitchy!), and have an expert replace it.  When the heater broke in my 1969 Fiat, all it needed was a $15 piece of cable and 20 minutes of my labor.  Modern cars have added feature after feature, and we have paid for that in weight and complexity.  To help compensate for the cost of all that bloat, the car is designed to be snapped together once with a minimum of labor, without regard for the poor bastard who has to fix it.

We need repairability to become a mentality to get over our collective preference for shiny garbage over quality and character.  Myself included.

1 comment:

  1. The collective "has" and shiny is spelled like that. I love your manifesto about manifestos.