Designers talk a lot about extending product lifecycles, but most often in terms of creating new objects with exceptional longevity. Extending the lifecycle of existing objects is a different proposition—it requires a proactive user. But it's absolutely possible to give tired goods a new lease on life, and Dutch design collective Platform 21 believes it's an imperative.
Platform 21 wrote their Repair Manifesto to encourage repairing over recycling, breaking down the details of their design dictum into eleven points. Number One: "Don't ditch it, stitch it! Don't end it, mend it! Repairing is not anti-consumption. It is anti-needlessly throwing things away."
Saul Griffith brought up the need for long-lived products at Compostmodern two weeks ago—what he termed "heirloom design"—citing things like Rolex watches and Mont Blanc pens as examples of items that can last through generations.
Platform 21's presentation provides nice contrast to Griffith's examples, which may be built to last but are also priced out of many people's range (it's true you are paying up front so you don't have to replace the thing later, but not everyone can afford to do this). Their primary example is the cheapest of products—a cast-plastic outdoor chair. They found creative hacks for repairing these chairs all over the world, some of the best emerging from resourceful individuals in resource-scare regions.
Image: Jens Thiels
Platform 21 is inviting readers to send in their own life-extending product patch jobs. Reader submissions may be included in an exhibition that opens at their Amsterdam headquarters on March 13.
Image: Dispatchwork by Jan Vormann