“Fixing is the unsung hero of creativity. And it really shouldn’t be. It’s the most common, humble and beautiful form of creativity. Let’s wear that belief proudly. Let’s notice and celebrate these little everyday triumphs, and help others see their value. We made this to fuel the conversation about why a culture of fixing is so important”.- sugru
Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle.
This past year 74FDC has covered a variety of environmental design perspectives and uncovered interesting product that is Heirloom, Upcycled, Rebuilt and Recycled, to show that commercial opportunities exist. But what about product designed to be fixed by the consumer? Designed so that its repair can engage, educate and reduce environmental impact.
Can designing product which encourages the consumer to repair it when it wears out or breaks, create a commercial advantage? How can a product be designed to make repair compelling? Maybe by designing modular components where each part is aesthetically compelling enough to have its own design appeal, so that purchasing a component provides a similar consumer experience to buying a complete product. Is personalization another compelling reason to repair?
Like the Creo Shoe design by Jennifer Rieker. By offering modular sole design upgrades, the leather can be left to do what is does well, AGE. While the rubber sole can be upgraded with new designs when it wears out. This system would allow for easy recycling, reduce labour and resource consumption involved with making entirely new footwear.
Via Jennifer Rieker
Patagonia did an interesting series of shoe designs with removable soles in 2008. The idea was to make footwear long lasting and that once the sole wore down you could walk into a Patagonia store, pick up a new sole and replace it yourself.
The Patagonia Rum and Coke.
The Patagonia Sugar and Spice.
The Patagonia Toast and Jam.
The Patagonia Salt and Pepper.
Medieval footwear known as Turnshoes and Wooden Pattens used a similar system of removable sole, which also benefited indoor and outdoor use.
Via St. Thomas guild
If the parts are available, most product is already designed to be repaired. Sometimes the repair is hard, or technical and it can require specialized tools. But fixing something, when done right can provide a great sense of accomplishment and empowerment.
A combination of determination, learning and skill, I remember replacing the hard drive on my MacBook Pro, or adjusting the valves on my motorcycle, realizing that specialized technicians are human just like me. Enabling the consumer to fix is democratic, inclusive and educational. Three social characteristics worth nurturing in this increasingly complex and interconnected world.
New advanced footwear sole designs that can easily replace old and worn out ones, essentially upcycling and encouraging shoe recycling. Upper parts that age well can be kept while other parts that are worn out can be replaced. Shoes that can also be donated and then easily refurbished to make compelling rebuilt designs.
For more on design for repair and upgrade check out my posts titled “Buy Less Buy Better, Make Memories Not Junk – Rebuilding, Another Environmentally Friendly Alternative” and “Upcycling’ – Design and Creative Recycling”
After all cars are fixed and car parts/labour contribute to both the global economy and company revenues. Can designing for repair be a viable commercial option for footwear? And what would new footwear designed for repair and upgrade look like?