Fascinating insight into the workings of planned obsolescence within Design. Style is something that will always dictate the lifetime of a design, which in turn encourages consumption.
Gordon Lippincott suggested that Consumerism created strong industry, national prosperity with social benefits. He argues that this new created ‘democracy’ would allow these benefits to filter all the way down to the poor. The age of advertising and mass consumerism began in the 1950s. New equated to financial success and social conformation.
We were given the task to find a 1950s Advertisement and break it down into obvious text and sub-texts. We chose BRYLCREEM, advertised by DENIS COMPTON (Sportsman), and began by deconstructing the image:
AFFORDABLE, STYLISH, ASPIRATIONAL, INTERCHANGEABLE, HYPER-MASCULINE & UNIFORMITY – Words attributed to the direct observation of the advert.
ILLUSION OF FREEDOM, THE PRODUCT TURNED DENIS COMPTON INTO A PRODUCT OF THE TIME, SOCIAL CLASS, IMAGE CONSCIOUS, CAPITALIST & STEREOTYPE – Looking beneath observation, and finding deeper meaning of the advert. VANCE PACKARDS explored these subliminal messages/text within his 1957 book, HIDDEN PERSUADERS. He identified that advertisers were promising products to people in such a fashion that it compelled them to buy just to satisfy. This resonated with me so strongly; I no longer buy what I want, but rather what I need.
Packard also wrote THE WASTE MAKERS, An exposé of “the systematic attempt of business to make us wasteful, debt-ridden, permanently discontented individuals’.
Huw detailed some of the best books to make use/research from:
VEBLEN – CONSPICUUS CONSUMPTION
NEUTRA – SURVIVAL THROUGH DESIGN
PACKARD – HIDDEN PERSUADERS, THE WASTE MAKERS
CARSON – SILENT SPRING
JAMES LOVELOCK – GAIA THEORY
It seemed that the 1960s – 70s (response to social issues) were a time of Green and Eco Revolution, but by the time the 1980s arrived the environmental debate became secondary in a society demoralised with concerns such as unemployment.
Thatcherism capitalised on this, dismissing ideas of society and social equity in favour of the hedonistic view of hard work and personal success.
Economic growth was perceived then as the barometer of individual well being, causing the consumption of symbolic and often over-styled goods to grow.
ART & DESIGN RESPONSES TO SUSTAINABILITY
Each ‘movement’ was subsumed by another, a chronological affair, derived from a GREEN to ECO to SUSTAINABLE DESIGN.
GREEN DESIGN looked primarily at the cycle of RAW MATERIALS, RECYCLING and DISPOSAL, which although would help to curb some of the worst and most polluting parts of the product lifestyle chain, failed to address the bigger picture, and problems of the whole life cycle.
Huw got me thinking about the bigger picture of GREEN DESIGN:
RAW MATERIAL, PRODUCTION, MANUFACTURE, FILL & REUSE, MATERIAL FOCUS, USE, SEVICE AND DISPOSAL. Should we not try to address all the issues and problems of this product lifecycle? How would we be able to do this? Design, which addresses all environmental impacts of a product throughout the complete life-cycle of the product without unduly compromising other criteria like function, quality, cost and appearance. As a society we need to concentrate on both inputs and outputs throughout the product lifestyle. What would the worst output of a Battery entail? It’s disposal. A Kettle? It’s use. What about a T-Shirt? It’s production. What do all these have in common? They are the times the product creates the most damage to the environment.
Life-cycle thinking – activity
- consider everything you did today from waking up to arriving at University 5 mins to discuss
- select one of the activities you did this morning – e.g. having a shower, making toast etc
- ‘draw’ a storyboard of the environmental impacts of your activity not only what happened within your house but where all the products/materials etc came from and how they were made 30mins to do this.
- What are your key areas of concern?
- Make three design recommendation based on these key concerns
- Present your storyboard to the group
My group decided upon the choice of James’ – ‘LISTENING TO MUSIC ON MY IPHONE’
NATURAL (RAW) RESOURCES – WORKFORCE/FACTORY (CREATING EMISSIONS FROM ENERGY USE FOR PRODUCTION CENTRE) – WASTE MATERIAL FROM PRODUCTION (POLLUTING ECO-SYSTEMS AND HUMAN HABITAT) – TRANSPORTATION (EMISSIONS FROM CARGO/FREIGHT/SHIPMENT) – WORKFORCE/DISTRIBUTION (EMISSIONS FROM ENERGY USE FOR FACTORY/WAREHOUSE/SHIPMENT) – RETAIL (EMISSIONS/WASTE FROM ENERGY USE & PACKAGING) – CUSTOMER (EXPECTATION/TRAVEL TO RETAIL/CAUSING CO EMISSIONS/CREATING POLLUTED HUMAN HABITAT) – PURCHASE OF PHONE (EMISSIONS FROM ENERGY USE FROM CONSTANT RE-CHARGE OF PHONE – DISPOSAL (DANGEROUS AND HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS FOUND WITHIN BATTERY)
What would be the worst 3 aspects of the IPHONE Product Cycle? How could I as a designer combat these issues and create a sustainable design life cycle?
- PRODUCTION – Use of locally/ethically sourced and easily re-usable/re-cyclable materials.
- TRANSPORTATION – Local freight options/Electric Vehicles run from ethical and renewable energy companies/Shipping via sea not air.
- DISPOSAL – Looking at the battery? Does it have to be a battery to depend on electricity? Solar Panel screen? Micro tech from TESLA/Solar Crystals. Detachable parts (phone can always be repaired/refurbished. Loyalty. No waste. No plastics used for packaging/all recycled and reusable.