Combining design with science, this hands on workshop as part of Design Manchester will introduce participants to the concept of designing for a Circular Economy, all through the medium of the humble mobile phone!
This was a great hands-on workshop that allowed us to explore sustainability in design. Firstly, we were talked to about the different ways to manufacture.
This was great because it gave me a good insight into the manufacturing models out there and how people respond to them.
It covered 4 areas Design for Longevity, Design for Service, Design for Re-use in Manufacture and Design for Material Recovery.
We were given an overview of how each of these methods effect society, both as a consumer, a worker and a manufacturer. This lead us down into conversions about how people like to be designed for and the reality of what is important to a consumer.
After this discussion, we were asked to dismantle a mobile phone and try and keep each piece in-tact. This really showed me how different companies approach the same problems in different ways. Some make it easy to dismantle, showing they are considering the end life of the product, other don't take this into consideration at all, showing that profit and ease of manufacture are there driving factors.
Once we had done this we were asked to redesign the mobile phone based on this different models above. Our team was given Design for Service, and we came to the conclusion that a modular phone that was easily dismantles and components are added by the consumer would allow for flexibility and personalisation. Saying this, the modular phone idea was the choice of a lot of other groups. Each of them thinking about the outcomes based on the initial model they were given.
My take away from this was not really anything to do with sustainability, personally I think designing products based on there end of life use is idealistic and not something that will be taken up until all other resources are consumed. My take away was actually how people react to the items in their lives, their belonging and possessions. It's interesting that as a consumer, unless we have underlying values that effect our choices (Green Friendly etc) we actually don't care how they are made or what makes things tick as long as they work for us and our purposes. In that respect it would be difficult to change people opinions on designing for sustainability unless it had a distinct advantage for the consumer.
This lead me on to thinking about design and how we digest information, for example we only read things that interest us, we only look at things that attract our attention due to a reason personal to us (like we haven't seen it before, or gratification humour etc)
The question is can that inherent selfish, lazy hedonistic consumer attitude be used to influence consumer choice and behaviour through design... The answer has to be yes. We see it everyday, adverts making us laugh - so they have a take away value, shopping centres giving more value to space in our eye-line because we can't be bothered to look up, websites placing information at the top of a page because they know people won't take time to read something unrelated to them.
So I'd say good talk, I took something completely different away from it though.