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open bridge goods for free

OpenBridge one persons trash another persons treasure

A magazine of the progress and the finally developed process

Critical Making / Section 002 DESN 321 Spring 2015 Sustainable Design Strategies INDD-318-S001 2015

Instructors Garnet Hertz - Keith Doyle Louise St. Pierre

Students Jonas Voigt - Robin Weidner

Content 06



Spatial environment


Vancouver environment


Designers’ responsibility







48 Prototyping 64

How-to manual


Final prototype


The Binners‘ meeting



Which kind of services, products, problems and processes are there present in how we live our life? To us, design is very much about what we do every day. It’s normal to live with open, interested and vigilant eyes, which make us aware of our surroundings. In this way we collect many observations on a subconscious, unconscious, and preconscious level from the present, past and recent past. The title of this research paper says already that we are focusing on discarded products from daily life.

We observe that many products and food that could still be useful nonetheless become trash. “One man’s trash, another man’s treasure“ shows that different people have differing values in regards to consumption. Because of these differing values, there are people who see a given product as old and useless, while others would be pleased if they could gain access to those same used products and give them new life. key words: treasure, consumption, products, food, feelings, services, process

“ Through intuitive insight we bring into play impressions, ideas and thoughts we have unknowingly collected on a subconscious, unconscious, or preconscious level.” Victor Papanek (1985), „Design for a real world.“ Chicago, Academy Chicago Publishers


Observations and awareness of spatial environment.

There exists – all around the world –a culture of dumpster diving. This is a movement undertaken by ‘binners,’ who search in trash bins for useful or edible products. There are entire communities of binners organized and connected with websites which give explanations, warnings, and tips for dumpster diving in each respective city or region. In the past, ‘Hobos’ – a self-identifying group of migratory workers or homeless vagabonds – developed a visual code, which could only written and read by the members themselves. Such visual codes might communicate messages like the following:


“fresh water safe campside”, “good place for hang out”, “Kind lady lives here”, “Vicious dog here”, “owner is out”, “barking dog here”.

“They are different dumpster divers and binner clientele. For example, clientele might include homeless people, the less fortunate, students, adventurous people, and those living in an anti-consumer fashion.

‘Hobo’, Wikipedia (2015) Dumpster diving and binning culture is often forbidden or disliked by mainstream society, but we feel that this system is awesome and should instead be embraced by all. Generally, what concerns us the most is the divide between the rich and the poor, and the collective selfishness we demonstrate towards our social and ecological environments.

There is so much potential to share products with people who are less fortunate, before those items become trash, or simply discarded and forgotten in hidden corners of our basements. Let’s take a look what Wikipedia says about products: “A product is anything that can be offered to a market that might satisfy a want or need.” An interesting question for everyone is: What do we really need? And what do we want to own? We often want to buy more goods, but in the end we become dissatisfied and unlikely to reach the goal of lasting satisfaction. But what happens with our satisfaction if we own many products?

Could the agony of choice be an anguish of desperation? Yes it can. Are we able to cope with so many products? No we are not. It seems we are sometimes unable to cope with so many choices and goods. In fact, we should think about which products are unnecessary and which overexert us. In a short way the title could be changed to “My trash is the other man’s and my treasure,” meaning ‘I am released from goods which burden me.’ Very often, in fact, someone needs what others don‘t want.


Observations and awareness of our Vancouver environment.

Let’s look deeper at the situation in Vancouver; at the local environment and the different clientele for “trash to treasure makers”. In the city there exists possibility to turn trash into treasures. The most needy clientele are the homeless, the financially unstable, and the poor; many who congregate in the East Hastings neighborhood.


“The Downtown Eastside (DTES) is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and is erroneously known as “Canada‘s poorest postal code.” Wikipedia (2015), The Downtown Eastside

first level of product reusing – binner and streetmarket

Our observations show that poor and dirty people with many physical and psychological disabilities are hanging around East Hastings, smoking marijuana and taking harder drugs like Crack cocaine and Heroin. It’s totally alarming to observe this horrible situation. But it’s important to note that not all of these people are loitering or taking drugs. There are also many motivated people who sell salvaged goods in a kind of sidewalk market. These goods are in most cases collected from residential trash bins: binners and the homeless have different value systems for evaluating what others might discard. Residents discard products no longer useful to them, but the homeless generate a sense

of pride making work out of recycling, reusing, or ‘upcycling’ those same items. It’s a pretty amazing and fascinating social mechanism that expands the lifecycle of a product. We asked ourselves, “which people would be pleased about this kind of a system?”

on waste infrastructure, and can benefit the taxpayers who fund waste and recycling in their town.

1. Homeless people: they have a possibility to work independently and generate a sense of purpose and income. In this sense, it might be a form of self-employment, ideal for those with difficulty conforming to other jobs.

4. And the last ‘person’ would be Mother Nature. The personified ecological environment is pleased, because – on one hand – we don‘t have to put as much garbage in the landfill. On the other hand, we don‘t have to produce as many new products requiring limited resources – such as crude oil – for fabrication.

2. The next happy person would be the garbage collector of the city, who doesn’t has to carry as much garbage as usual. This ultimately represents the Municipality itself, putting less strain

3. Behind the homeless man is a customer, who has now access to low cost products which are still in good shape.

These four kinds of personas each benefit from bringing used ‘stuff’ back into the consumer market.


The next organized selling of used goods occurs at the DTES street market in East Hastings every Sunday. Binners have official spaces for selling their found products. They can sign themselves in at the Carnegie Public Library at a very low cost. There is a possibility to rent a table and/or a tent for displaying and selling their wares. We had already purchased some products at this market and heard some of the binners personal stories. All in all they do a service to our society and to our environment

and by bringing these otherwise discarded products back to life. Moreover, they created this smart platform by bringing customers and sellers together in a social manner. Most of the time we forget that some of us are only happy if we earn money. Our existence in a capitalist economy necessitates some level of personal financial stability. Regardless of their own personal financial standing, binners sometimes live in isolation from mainstream society. Besi-

des enabling a fiscally-motivated seller-purchaser relationship, this market invites social interaction through conversations, which give emotional pleasure and a sense of community to all involved. Our next exploration was a free shop on Hornby Island. At the Hornby Island Recyling Depot, you can find new outfits for yourself or for your children, books and magazines, furniture, kitchen equipment, toys, gardening tools, sewing patterns, and so on. The Recycling Depot reuses more than 70% of the objects that arri-

second level of product reusing – freestore, freelabrary, free tabel

ve on-site. It is really interesting to observe what happens there. A small island, Hornby residents have need for a different approach to product consumption; it’s logistically difficult and also expensive to import new products and ‘export’ garbage. A changing spot, like a free store, is beneficial for all participants. They are living an alternative lifestyle with less luxury, prompted by the difficulty in accessing new products. We are convinced that the people of Hornby are not less satisfied than the residents of Vancouver.

Hornby residents embrace a “less is more” mentality, using less products and experiencing less anguish of despair from excess choice. There are similar spaces in Vancouver City too. For example, the Kitsilano neighbourhood has many ‘free libraries.’ Anyone can take and leave books. In some cases the miniature libraries include benches which invite rest and conversation with others. On Union Street there is a small table – created by people for peop-

le – which can be interpreted as a kind of a bridge in between those in need and those who don’t want their goods any more.


Taking it one step further “Jack’s New & Used Building Materials” collects used building materials. This organization stores the construction materials, prepares them for re-use, and offers them again for different customers. Those materials would otherwise end up at the landfill. The materials become not only lucrative deals for customers, but furthermore helping the global through reduced waste and reduced demand for new materials that would otherwise consume our limited natural resources.

Continuing in this vein, “Our Community Bikes” is not only a shop, but also a bicycle recycling depot and a workspace for people who need to repair their own bikes or who want learn repair skills. Used bicycle parts are collected, stored, and offered to new customers. Similarly, the “Free Geek” non-profit organization deals exclusively with reused computer parts, utilizing otherwise discarded computer equipment to build functional computers

at a low cost. These inexpensive computers then allow people with less money to purchase computers. It’s also a nice solution for enabling the poor to overcome typical barriers to accessing the information and education that society generally enjoys from access to computers and the Internet. This society is growing from one month to another; at in the same time the divide between rich and poor will be bigger and even bigger. We think we should design more services that do not rely on technology or the Internet,

in order to be more inclusive of a wider society. In this category of shops are also many thrift stores, especially at Commercial Drive, where you can buy secondhand products for low costs.

thirth level of product reusing – „jacks“, „free greek“, „our community bike“, thrift stores, ...



forth level of product reusing – vintage stores

The highest level of retail sales of secondhand products, furniture, clothes, etc., is vintage stores. The customers are a richer clientele. To me it’s unbelievable how much more expensive the goods in such vintage stores are in comparison to the prices of goods in simple thrift shops or secondhand markets. Something like 80% of the products in these fancier stores are actually the same quality of goods like those found by Binners, in the lowest mentioned level of selling and offering. It’s amazing to be aware of the

impact the context of presenting a product has. If a lamp from 1940 lies in the trash bin, only the poorest people of the city pay attention. It the same lamp is placed in a vintage store, it’s only for the rich people who can afford the marked price.


Designers’ responsibility and the way to a solution.


Chapters one and two show situations that are very alarming, so we believe a design solution is necessary. We came to know that there are many motivated people, there are existing examples of open spaces and shops currentlz working as product-bridge, and finally there is much trash with the potential to become other people’s treasure. Maybe there is not enough space. If need more space, we need a system: we need everybody to save treasures and to create a space for exchange. One topic is to create this space and this kind of bridge. The other issue is how to bring the “one person’s trash is another person‘s treasure” philosophy to public attention.

Every service is useless if the public doesn‘t agree and support such a system. Thus, our design topic is a bridge for products and space for public attention. That’s a big challenge for communication and product design and finally a even bigger challenge for society as a whole to become responsible for our social and ecological environment. We need courage to be radical and to think outside the proverbial box. You really have to ask if this problem actually exists. One stigma towards this kind of behaviour or social change is that you have to work hard yet you will not earn much money for this kind of work.

“ Design, if it is to be ecologically responsible and socially responsive, must be revolutionary and radical.“ Brainyquote (2001), Victor Papanek Quotes


“ Even if the corporate greed of many design offices makes this kind of design impossible, students should at least be encouraged to work in this manner. For in showing students new areas of engagement, we may set up alternative patterns of thinking about design problems. We may help them to develop the kind of social and moral responsibility that is needed.� Victor Papanek (1985) Design for a real world. Chicago, Academy Chicago Publishers

Victor Papanek motivates us as students to work on issues, of the “designer responsibility for the real world.” Finally we spent a lot time considering “one person’s trash, another person’s treasure.” We thought about the ways in which we could generate a bridge, in the form of an object or a product, but also a social bridge for bringing the various groups of our society together. We also did a lot of research and had many conversations with homeless people and area residents about this issue. More designers

should get in touch with those groups and facilitate cooperation with different professionals. One of our Professors gave us a contact who works for the “Binners-Project Vancouver”. We joined a co-creation and had already very productive and informative meetings. This opportunity as a design project contains a service including the product and a sizeable information and advertising campaign which together could have an impact on our social behavior and on our relationship towards products and our social- and ecological environments.


This project is about behavior change and process design for a specific area of the social- and the ecological environment.

We want to keep relationships towards resources and products in mind.

Impression We offer affordable products for everyone, we generate less trash, we don‘t have to produce new products and there is more work for people who need to earn a living. The following video provides a visual explanation of our chosen topic.

A product is anything that can be offered to a market that might satisfy a want or need."


Very often some else needs, wha don't want.

What do we need? What do we want?

eone at others Are we unable to cope with so many products?

Could the agony of choice be the anguish of despair?

There is space...



... created from people for people ...

... but maybe not enough space. There is much trash with the potential to be another man's treasure.


There are "other man's" ...with an other feeling for values.


"A little bit of patience and a little bit of time that‘s it." Derak, Carpenter

How can we bring the "one man's trash is another man's treasure" philosophy to public attention?

With the benefit that ... ... we offer affordable products for everyone ... we generate less trash ... we don't have to produce many new products ... there is sensemaking work for people

We need more space, we need a system, we need everybody to save the treasures. 41























Ball bearing

The morphological box creates cross-connections. Thus, other areas get included in the design process.







open bridge (

o o lo o lo


open bridge o lo

o lo

o lo

open bridge

open bridge

open bridge

bare bridge

share bridge

blank bridge

share table

every thing

open bridge

open bridge

place here place place place place


f(re)e place

space to place

pick & place

free table open table open place free place

o lo


o lo

space to place

floatsam + jetsam

space place

free place


open bridge goods for free

space to place bridge

o lo

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open bridge


open bridge goods for free 55

The following video shows the creation process.

The following video shows the usage.

The following video shows the binding

The Open Bridge project includes the prototype shelving product itself, which should be built with easily-accessible materials and tools, such as salvaged wood pallets and rope.

A campaign — including a magazine, tutorial videos, and advertisements — explains the system and the benefits of supporting Open Bridge. These campaign materials would also empower the binning community with basic design and construction skills for the purpose of innovation and life improvement.

How-to manual







+/- 100

drill and sink 5/16 rogh sanded

rope 1,3 meter

rope 3,7 meter






decentered mount + rain cover

centered mount


+ +

+ +


expanded versions

fabric add-on


accsess map

Where to find accessable materials.

Where to find openbridges.

Final prototype




The Binners‘ meeting


The co-creation starts again after ‚statement‘, with all Binners.






3 co-creation kits were prepared, to improve the design of the prototype.



Conclusions This project was a great opportunity for us to get in touch with homeless people and binners in Vancouver. We learned a lot in terms of, how I generate a project with many people and gerate a project for a socildesign issue. It was a challenge and in the same time a change to lern the language. Who Productdesign and Communikation Design can be works togehter was a great experiance. I’m glad to had the possibility to collect much knowledge about Critical Design and also Social Design. We look forward to delelop this idea in the next time togehter with the binnerproject vancouver.


Robin Weidner, Jonas Voigt Emily Carr University, 2015

OpenBridge Project_Magazin  
OpenBridge Project_Magazin  

Emily Carr University Impressions Explain the OpenBridge How to