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PROSUMERISM Crafting Alternate Consumption Experiences




PROSUMERISM Crafting Alternate Consumption Experiences

SOWMYA IYER MFA Products of Design School of Visual Arts

Prosumerism: Alternate Consumption Experiences © 2018 SOWMYA IYER ALL RIGHTS RESERVED FOR INQUIRIES, PLEASE CONTACT: TO SEE MORE WORK: www. School of Visual Arts MFA Products of Design 136 West 21st Street New York, NY - 10010

SOWMYA IYER Author Designer

ALLAN CHOCHINOV Chair, MFA Products of Design Thesis I Advisor


ABBY COVERT Thesis II Advisor



01 INTRODUCTION / 8 Why This Thesis / 9 What to Expect / 16

02 GOALS & OBJECTIVES / 18 Why / 19 What / 20 How / 24

03 AUDIENCE & MARKETS / 26 The World We live In / 27 Consumer Behavior Then & Now / 29 The Prosumer / 35 Crafting a Lifestyle / 36 Role of Brands / 42

04 UNDERSTANDING PERCEPTIONS / 50 Expert Interviews / 51 Hack:Pack / 68

05 RESEARCH AND METHODOLOGY / 74 Disposability and Convenience / 75 The Concept of “Jugaad” / 76 Capitalism vs. Degrowth / 76 Collaborative Consumption / 80 Within the Principles of Circular Economy / 83


07 SERVICES / 99 REVIVAL - A Pop-up Repair Cafe / 100 JEANPAL - Pay for the raw material, not the product / 114 OBIT - Value in Discarded Objects / 122

08 PRODUCTS / 140 DOT&DASH - Modular Furniture from Found Objects / 142 INSIDE/OUT BAG - Reversible Shopping Bag / 154 HERO - A Smart Kitchen Appliance / 174

09 DIGITAL PLATFORMS / 189 GRYD - Shelves around the Objects You Love / 190 URGE - Find Great Alternatives / 202





If you keep hoarding things, we’ll have to buy a new house to store everything that you have! - Mom




Why this Thesis I grew up in India. Like most middle-class Indian households, my family believed that limiting consumption was a part of a prudent lifestyle, synonymous with smart money management. That belief was reflected in our everyday practices such as buying things only when there was a sale. I frequently wore handme-downs from my older sisters, we hang dried clothes, and we carefully stored good heavy-duty plastic shopping bags under our mattresses for future use. So, it was from an early age that I was instilled with an aversion to wasteful habits. As a child, I began collecting random objects I found around the house or the neighborhood in order to transform them into something else. I used to keep an eye out for any items I found interesting—anything from weird twigs to carefully unwrapped gift paper.


My mom would say, “If you keep hoarding things, we’ll have to buy a new house to store everything that you have!” I am almost glad that this was not just a childhood quirk. Instead of growing out of the habit, I went on to become a more sophisticated hoarder . So much so that, when I moved out of my home and started living by myself, EVERYTHING—from my furniture to my room décor—was either made from the small artsy items that I had hoarded back then or was up-cycled from discarded (yet very much salvageable) objects or pieces of furniture. I still find it fun to haul home tires with interesting patterns on them, paint them, stitch matching cozy cushions, and use them as ottomans!

JUGAAD = Frugal + Flexible Innovation It has also a lot to do with the cultural ideology of Jugaad—a Hindi word meaning a flexible and frugal method of innovating using local/available resources. There are so many rural and semi-urban towns and villages in India where people are fighting for basic needs. When those needs are not met or provided by the government, what should they do? The concept of jugaad is most appropriate in such scenarios where the local community has to step up and take matters into their own hands by building infrastructure and facilities using indigenous methods and resources.


Though these principles and cultural values that encourage one to reduce, reuse, and innovate using local resources take precedence in a typical Indian’s life, modern Indian society also demands a voracious consumerist attitude for its economic growth. It can be difficult to reconcile the two. I, too, am in a constant battle against the constant temptation to buy things. But when my desire to consume less, organize, and simplify my life wins out, I find that I become a happier, healthier person. Thus, there is a part of me that obsessively, and perhaps irrationally, believes that if people can streamline their homes and possessions, it will bring harmony to their lives, and potentially the world. We now live in an era in which the challenge of limiting consumption is not just worthwhile but vital to the survival of the planet. The evidence that using sustainability and resilience as a guiding principle in design is now a necessity has become incontrovertible. Human beings’ present rate of consumption has become a very real threat to the planet. There is no more conspicuous example of this impact than global climate change. Driven by human activity, the earth’s climate has undergone several noticeable shifts, including but not limited to melting ice glaciers, rising sea levels, and increasing storm activity that devastates entire communities and cities. In addition, it is anticipated that by 2050, some nine billion people will populate the earth. This exponential population growth is predicted to stretch our resources and force us to

fundamentally rethink our relationship with the products we use every day. We often talk about addressing environmental problems in terms of sweeping policy proposals that should be enacted by states and nations. One such grand approach was the 1992 formation of the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change,

Figure 1 / Wheelchair for a disabled person using local resources available, India





resulting in an international treaty to control greenhouse gas emissions. In the more recent 2016 convention in Paris, 195 countries made extensive commitments to combat climate change, including signing a legally binding agreement to set global average temperature. It has taken a long time to make this kind of progress. But now that we have, we must use the momentum to consider not only largescale policies but individual actions that can be taken as well. What if massive change could also come from the accumulation of small decisions made by many people on a daily basis? Essentially, this thesis examines one of the most daunting problems facing our civilization as a whole and considers solutions from the other end of the spectrum. It is in our power to reform and renew the life cycle of everything we create. We need only to look at these products with a different set of priorities in mind. This is where design can become a crucial tool in enabling people to take action. Studying consumption patterns and using design to reduce waste allows us to tackle the issue, bit by bit, in our everyday lives. By altering the way the objects that make up our immediate surroundings are acquired and disposed of, design can shape our impact on the environment in profound ways. But first we must confront one of the most


stubborn hurdles that stands in the way of positive change: Even people with the best of intentions have become habituated to consuming in wasteful and inefficient ways. Rather than support and cater to the needs of those who are perhaps the greatest offenders when it comes to hyper-consumerism, it would be more productive to change their habits and even their mindsets. To that end, designs must not only factor in the quality of an object but also incentivize behavior and include feedback loops. Broad philosophical ideas that require embracing a vastly different way of life may have a romantic appeal, but they are not easy for most to adopt. Using an approach that emphasizes practical incremental improvement harnesses our good intentions in the best possible manner by making them easy to act on.

Figure 2 / The New Dynamic 2 by Ellen MacArthur Foundation

For the same reasons, the concepts of sustainability and resilience are of great importance to this thesis. But according to Advertising Age, “sustainability� is the most used and abused word of this year, and I couldn’t agree more. Therefore, I decided to invent a more accurate taxonomy to describe what I am pursuing. In this era of constantly changing needs and aspi-

rations, I believe that we have to go above and beyond being sustainable and resilient. The products and systems need to be more adaptable, contextual, and transformative in their functionality and usability, which would make them inherently sustainable. Design can help us increase the likelihood of people living in harmony with nature in a practical and sustainable way. The irony for me is that the values that were so much a part of my upbringing, which seemed like a cultural anomaly at the time, have become nothing less than an ecological necessity.

“A good concept gone bad by mis- and overuse. It’s come to be a squishy, feel-good catchall for doing the right thing. Used properly, it describes practices through which the global economy can grow without creating a fatal drain on resources.” - Advertising Age / On the word “Sustainability”



What to Expect This document encapsulates a year’s worth of research. It illustrates my design offering and process. While it is not a scholarly dissertation, it does detail the journey I took from the very beginning of this undertaking—from conceiving my thesis, thoroughly researching the topic, and finally, writing and printing the book. As you review my findings, you will also come across several design inventions that include services, mobile applications, physical products, and experiences, along with detailed descriptions of the many successes and failures I experienced along the way. By looking at this topic through various lenses, what I present to you is a comprehensive body of work. Each individual offering can stand alone, but collectively, they strengthen one another. My hope is that my work will serve to make us question the way we consume things and the choices we make every day. I believe that with minimal effort, we can all take steps towards leading much less wasteful live







Why In earlier centuries, most people lived in what could be termed an “essentials economy.” They grew or made what they could and bartered for or purchased only those additional items they absolutely needed in order to get by. As modern consumerism took hold in the early- to mid-twentieth century, the most developed markets happily transitioned to an “accumulation economy.” With leading economists and politicians preaching the gospel of consumerism as an essential driver of economic growth, citizens in wealthier countries were exhorted to spend freely and often. And they heeded the call. In the United States, phrases such as “shop till you drop,” “keeping up with the Joneses,” and “retail therapy” became part of the vernacular. A lot has changed since then, however, it’s not just that people have less money to spend 21

as a consequence of various economic downturns. It’s also that many have grown tired of overconsumption. They simply are not getting the same pleasure they once did from shopping. Instead of excitement, they feel anxiety over unpaid bills. Instead of enjoying the instant gratification of a glittery find, they worry about the effects of their consumption choices on the planet. And many people feel constrained by all the “things” they have amassed—purchases that are physically filling their homes and garages and psychologically weighing them down. In this growing state of conflict, one has to constantly make choices based on social and environmental pressures. One cannot be aware of the all the climactic changes occurring and yet not feel compelled to do something about it. Wouldn’t it be perfect, then, if everything we consumed was guilt-free and environmentally friendly? Consider the following: Can products and services ease the cognitive load of the consumer by helping them make choices that fit their values? Can they be seductive yet sustainable? Can they be adaptive to the consumer’s lifestyle and built for their convenience? I say yes, they can be all of the above. That is what this thesis hopes to prove.

What This thesis will attempt to achieve several goals. The first is personal. I am my own target audience: a lazy environmentalist. People like me are aware of the problem and are motivated enough to take small steps to be less wasteful 22

and more mindful, but only if it is convenient. Our priorities change every day, and it is difficult to be mindful and aware at all times. I am hoping to leave this experience with a new frame of mind, and the tools to make a significant mental shift in how I live. I have already seen the effects of my work on my personal life, and it is starting to spread to those around me. I have become very aware of my own consumption patterns and have become extremely mindful of what and how much I purchase. Instead of buying something impulsively, I now ask myself a few important questions before making the decision: Will I use this forever? What will happen if I don’t buy this? Will it make me unhappy? Initially I was a little reluctant. Trying to eliminate unnecessary “stuff” proved to be harder than I had imagined. But ultimately, being more thoughtful about consumption made not only my environment but my mind clutter free. I no longer own things that I don’t use, with the possible exception of some stationery and books. The goal of this thesis is to act as a catalyst of a large-scale systemic change. If it is possible to change even one person’s mindset, it is possible to change many. As a culture, it is easy for us to succumb to the influences of society and the lucrative marketing of major companies, whose main goal is to lure customers into shopping constantly. But while our economy is based on capitalism and consumerism, it is still possible to make decisions that are less harmful to the world and to one’s personal well-being.



Figure 3 / System Map




How There are many components to this thesis, each offering a different perspective and a different angle of approaching conservation. As previously mentioned, the final components include services, products, digital platforms, and brands. I have engaged with many potential users and experts to test the efficacy and value of each solution. This was achieved through a series of expert and user interviews, workshops, social interventions, conversations, and user testing in situ. Solutions were constantly adjusted based on research and user feedback. The user input was instrumental in strengthening the concept and combating the assumptions I had about what should work. It was important for me to remain flexible, to pivot and redefine the thesis statement based on all these discussions and gathered data. One method I employed was to constantly look back at the goal of the thesis. I had to make sure I remained aligned with the mission: How can I make interventions that are good for us and the planet? My initial interviews with the experts confirmed my belief that behavior change is extremely difficult. It is much more likely to happen if the act of doing something is delightful. It is almost impossible to bring people out of their comfort zones and ask them to reconfigure their daily routines in order to fit their best intentions—especially if following through on their best intentions is expensive, inconvenient, or takes tremendous effort. I had hoped to solve 26

over several months something that would take years, possibly decades, of behavior shift to achieve. Therefore, I narrowed my focus, concentrating instead on creating products and solutions that are inherently sustainable and resilient. I endeavored to design interventions that suit the user’s lifestyle. There are two research-based goals at the crux of this thesis. The first, fostering more meaningful transactions between objects and people. It is clear that as a society, we need to overcome our tendency toward hoarding, impulsive buying, and mindless disposability. By doing so, we can better filter what we consume and dispose. Other options like sharing, bartering, upcycling, and donating might seem strenuous, but if implemented with ease of the customer in mind, these can become more viable opportunities. The second is to maneuver the users’ best intentions into actions. If given an opportunity, many of us would make choices that are “less bad.” That can be done by designing systems that provide the user tools and capabilities to facilitate those decisions. It is the designers’ and the manufacturer’s responsibility to create products keeping in mind their disassembly, recyclability, longevity, and materials re-use. If everything we consumed was thoughtfully designed to go back into the system, it would reduce waste and would be, by default, sustainable. I set out to design a set of tools to help people understand the impact of their choices, providing them with alternatives to conventional consumption patterns. In doing so, this thesis aims to

empower people, giving them greater personal agency in relation to the environment. It encourages everyone to become more mindful of their actions and to foster a healthy lifestyle that also takes into account the planet which we live.

It is the designers’ and the manufacturers’ responsibility to create products keeping in mind their disassembly, recyclability, longevity, and material re-use.

Figure 4 / A poster starring Avengers to instigate the importance of making small choices - among teenagers






The World We Live In

Where is the value in owning more more it it makes you less happy, less satisfied, less proud? Figure 5 / Sarah Lazarovic illustrations on consumption

Changes in business are taking place in tandem with shifts in how we consume. In developed markets especially, people are deriving less pleasure from the mindless consumption that started filling up our pantries, closets, and garages in the postwar boom of the 1950s. People still want bargains, of course, but they’re defining that differently. Instead of throwing their money away on masses of low-cost, disposable goods, many consumers are seeking to find a more substantive value in well-crafted, sustainably created items that will endure. Around the world, even in emerging markets, mindful frugality is becoming more aspirational than excess. And many agree that they could happily live without most of the items they own. What this trend means for manufacturers and retailers is that, while people still want low prices, it’s even 29

more essential that products and services offer some sort of enduring value. Accumulating more “stuff” simply isn’t offering the satisfaction it once did. The rise of the sharing economy, the maker movement, and the push to repair items rather than replace them are all evidence of this more thoughtful mindset. THE NOTION THAT MANUFACTURERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COMPLETE LIFECYCLES OF THE PRODUCTS THEY MAKE IS GAINING GROUND— INCLUDING AMONG THE COMPANIES THEMSELVES. Brands are responding to this emerging attitude in all sorts of ways, including offering products that can be upgraded, repurposed, or repaired. In the UK, parents who hate the waste of having to buy multiple car seats and boosters as their children grow can invest instead in the Kiddy Comfort Pro car seat, which adjusts to fit the needs of children from around 9 months to 12 years old. Want to upgrade your pots and pans but feel guilty about throwing out the old? When you buy certain sets of Calphalon cookware, you can box up your old set (any brand) and ship it to the company for free. Calphalon will then send the discards on to a recycling center and even mail you a couple of recycled-cotton shopping bags for your


efforts. MAC Cosmetics offers a free lipstick for every six empty cosmetics containers (compacts, tubes) returned and Sweden’s Nudie Jeans is turning old pants into rugs. The products are the same, but the consumer gains the added satisfaction of knowing that his or her purchase won’t end up in a landfill and may even end up doing some good. Global surveys have consistently shown that people are hungry for sociopolitical change. At the same time, they’re disillusioned with politicians and governments, no longer believing them capable of solving the world’s most pressing problems. The prevailing view is that the greatest agents of change will be “the people”—through both their social activism and their consumption choices. But people can’t

Figure 6 / Froc chair that transforms from a high chair to a regular old seat to accomodate kids of all ages.

do it alone. There’s a growing sense that major change will require the active cooperation of big business, given that far more power is concentrated within the largest companies than ever before in history. The consensus is that businesses not only should play a larger role in solving social problems, but actually bearbear as much responsibility as governments for driving social change—and may even be better suited to the task.

Consumer Behavior - Then According to the research, the first synthesis of economic theories on consumer behaviour was accomplished by Alfred Marshall based on the ideas of classical economists and the advocates of the theory of marginal utility . As a need is being satisfied through consumption the additional benefit derived from a given increase diminishes with every increase. In this model all men are considered to beare rational buyers and the market is viewed as a collection of homogenous buyers. It is considered that buyers behave in a similar manner under given circumstances and their ultimate goalgoal is to maximize the value obtained for the money spent. The model however does not comprise the diversity of factors influencing consumer behaviour and cannot be used to explain real life situations; its value resides in explaining the processes and mechanism of consumer behaviour, taking into accountconsidering the economic factors. Other factors such as attitude, perception, motivation, learning, personality, and culture, ignored by the economic model are subject to psychologists and sociologists interest in the field of consumer behaviour. Unlike their economic counterpart theories the psychological theories consider consumers as irrational, impulsive buyers. The view regarding consumers as being vulnerable and subject to external influences was rather an obvious reaction to the “economic man”, whose behaviour is rational and based solely on conscious economic calculations. The theory of learning developed based on the research



Figure 7 / Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs by Sarah lazarovic


of Ivan Pavlov introduces the concept according to which the human behaviour is the result of a learning process. The psychoanalytical theory of Sigmund Freud rejected the idea that man dominates its own psyche. It assumes that the psychological factors affecting and influencing the behaviour are mostly unconscious, people rarely being able to fully grasp their motivations. The social and cultural influences on consumer behaviour are addressed to by the social psychological model proposed by Thornstein Veblen. In this approach the behaviour is considered to be a result of social pressures exerted in the individual’s quest to fit within the desired social group. During the 1950’s, the research on consumer behaviour started to focus on the behaviour of the consumer rather than following a macroeconomic orientation. In this context Abraham Maslow developed his hierarchy of needs and formulated his widely accepted theory of human motivation. The following years were characterized by consumerism, generated by individuals’ desire to improve their social condition by possession and consumption of goods. This tendency is resumed by Victor Lebow in his article from 1955 : “Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption. The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is now to be found in our consumptive patterns. The very meaning and significance of our lives today expressed in consumptive

terms. The greater the pressures upon the individual to conform to safe and accepted social standards, the more does he tend to express his aspirations and his individuality in terms of what he wears, drives, eats- his home, his car, his pattern of food serving, his hobbies.” However, this fatigueless quest for achieving goods did not succeed in making people happier; the so-called “paradox of happiness” standing as proof. Studies have shown that substantial increases in real per capita income do not correspond to equivalent increases of individual happiness. Moreover, negative correlation between real income and happiness were observed. The last decade alone has brought about enormous and unprecedented developments in technology that improved communication and the possibility to connect with each other. In this context, perhaps the most important recent developments in consumer behaviour include the movement toward a global consumer culture and the digital revolution, consumer behaviour surpasses the act of buying, extending to having and being. This view supports the idea that the study of consumer behaviour goes beyond the act of buying to the study of how having or on the contrary not having affects our lives and ultimately the image of ourselves and our state of being. The recent years have brought about also a paradoxical situation - the consumers are facing the difficult task of searching and choosing the product that best suits their needs among a huge diversity of products. At a first glance, the diversity of products giving each of us a great freedom of choice is a positive aspect of our everyday lives. However, the increased



opportunities for choice doubled by consumers’ legitimate desire to obtain the best out of every situation may lead to a decrease in well-being. One of the factors leading to a decrease in wellbeing is regret – a person does not feel regret following a decision if they feel they made the best choice; but the more options they have, the more probable is to experience regret . The increased number of opportunities leads also to a higher opportunity cost perceived by the consumer and to a rise in people’s expectations transforming them in ever more demanding consumers harder to be satisfied and more importantly, harder to feel satisfied. We may assert that consumer behaviour is structurally and continuously changing due to the social and economic dynamism characterizing modern society, with people seeking to attain emotional content through more meaningful, more lasting experiences that offer deeper satisfaction.

Consumer Behavior - Now The financial crisis has impacted consumer behaviour determining consumers to become more economical, more attentive, and to weigh more carefully their options. The crisis is providing the frame for the emergence and development of new types of consumers, more considered and more rational. The global crisis has affected the world economy and effects such as the rising unemployment, the increase of inflation, the decrease of purchase power have determined an augmentation of the level of anxiety perceived by consumers, leading to a reconsideration of their priorities concretized in the general reduction of spending, the postponement of high value purchases or the decrease in consumption of leisure and entertainment goods, and the decrease of impulse and indulgence purchases. The results presented by the most recent Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Report (2012), show a slightly increased consumer confidence. Although the present context cannot be characterized as positive, many perceive the recession as an opportunity to chase away their former consumption patterns and embrace instead a more considered approach. 34

People have moved from being CONsumers to PROsumers with far more influence than ever before.

Rather than simply “consuming� products, people are becoming the voices of those products and significantly impacting the success or failure of companies, products, and brands, particularly through their involvement on the social web.



These are the new consumers .We will call them the PROSUMERS. They have taken the current economic context as a convenience to find a better way forward. As the economic situation becomes more uncertain, it is only natural for consumers to become more rational. The new consumer turned away from overconsumption and mindless excess in order to take a more considered stance to spending. The study concluded that there may be identified four paradigms of the new consumer summarizing the newly adopted behaviours and attitudes .

Embracing Substance The first paradigm, entitled Embracing Substance, describes the new consumer as satiated with the shopping culture, worried about the superficiality characterizing a society too preoccupied with unimportant and hollow matters. Instead they long to feel more connected with other people and nature, seeking more substance. Modern society has led people to experience a keen isolation, sometimes resulting in feelings of alienation. Consequently they feel the desire to be part of an important cause, to lead a more spiritual life and build a stronger connection with religion or life philosophy.

Rightsizing The second paradigm, Rightsizing, addresses the pressure put on consumers by the enormous variety of products meant to improve their lives, but instead became exhausting. Bearing in mind the vast diversity of products the consumers have to find their way through and the “paradox of choice”


is rather natural to relate to this paradigm. The demand for simplicity may be considered as generated by the current context, although it has been noticed even prior to the recession. The overwhelming diversity adds to the stress felt in periods of recession thus the increasing need for simplicity comes as a natural consequence. The stupendous diversity of products combined with the bent for accumulating goods that characterized traditional consumers, seems to have fatigued consumers up to the point where they feel the need to return to the simple things. The new consumers are embracing “intelligent simplification”, admiring people who live simply and focusing on the functional features of the products.

Growing Up The third paradigm, Growing Up, refers to the phenomenon of the recent decades of generations that do not behave according to their age and rather live a prolonged adolescence, postponing adulthood. However, the recession has bound them to grow, their financial choices becoming the instrument they appeal to in order to take control and accept responsibility for their choices. They are trying to attain self-control and that they would not return to the old shopping patterns should the economy recover.

Seeking Purposeful Pleasure The fourth paradigm, Seeking Purposeful Pleasure, records the changing of what makes people feel good and satisfied, the new consumers seeking more purposeful pleasures that last longer and bring more satisfaction. They are

more risk aware, but they assess, they have a better control of their lives and welcome the “proactive mindfulness” by shopping more carefully and paying more attention to the environmental and social impact of the products they buy; they manifest their desire and intention to reduce the negative impact on the environment and other people. Their focus surpasses products and reaches the companies that produce them; they have the tendency to relate to companies sharing the same values, practicing sustainability and stating a purpose that goes beyond profits.

The Prosumer As the social web has grown and tools like Twitter, blogs, Facebook and YouTube have allowed communications to flow faster and farther than ever before -- inevitably causing the world to shrink and real-time to be the expectation -- people have changed. Those changes affect most aspects of our daily lives, including our roles as individuals with buying power, and that’s a shift that businesses and their employees need to understand if they want to stay profitable in the future. In simplest terms, people have moved from being CONsumers to PROsumers with far more influence than ever before. The term “prosumer” isn’t a new one. It’s been around the marketing world for years, but in today’s world of the social web, it has taken on a new importance that business leaders and marketers can’t ignore. The term “prosumer” has transformed from meaning “professional consumer” to meaning “product and brand advocate.” Rather than simply “consuming” products, people are becoming the voices of those products and significantly impacting the success or failure of companies, products, and brands, particularly through their involvement on the social web.



Crafting a Lifestyle Most would agree that a sense of unease and uncertainty has marked much of the past decade. There are all sorts of factors contributing to this global malaise—concerns related to everything from increasing urban density and higher concentrations of senior citizens to clean-water shortages, climate change, our rapidly shifting social mores, and dissatisfaction with digital life. High on this list of concerns is overconsumption. What might have been a fringe issue a decade ago has become a pressing concern: Most scientists agree that overconsumption is putting our society and the planet at risk.

Overconsumption is killing us, but buying is a patriotic duty Consumption isn’t just linked in people’s minds to waste and environmental destruction, it’s also tied to jobs and economic stability—to the point of being considered a patriotic duty. This has created a very real tension for those people who wish to move away from consumerism for social and environmental reasons, but who fundamentally believe that consumerism is essential to economic growth and widespread prosperity. So how will people ease this tension? For many, the answer lies not in reducing spending and consuming less but in consuming smarter.


Smarter consumptions is about replacing guilt with purpose People are drawing a distinction between beneficial and damaging forms of personal and household spending. Handled correctly, consumption can be a tool for progress. The continued growth of consumer markets is seen as key to moving emerging nations forward, keeping unemployment in check, and (potentially) reducing the yawning income gap between rich and poor. What exactly does it mean to consume smarter? Progress is not about consuming more but consuming better—being more discerning and less wasteful. It’s about making choices that are more closely aligned with one’s personal values and self-perceptions, replacing guilt with purpose, heedless excess with measured decision making. That means consuming only what one needs (no matter how broad one defines those parameters) and taking care to get the full value from each purchase by extending its lifespan. In this way, we can inject social values into our purchase decisions. Important components of quality perceptions go beyond the product’s durability and the caliber of materials/ ingredients used to include factors such as transparency and provenance. The new consumer doesn’t truly trust in the quality of a product without knowing a bit about it—including its roots, who makes it, and what values are represented by the brand. So, it’s essential not just that the actual product have a sustained lifespan (able to be donated

Smarter consumption is about replacing guilt with purpose and injecting our social values into our purchase decisions. For most of us, it means being more conscious of what we consume, taking care to extend the lifecycles of the things we do buy, and choosing products that offer guilt-free pleasure by virtue of their durability, sustainability, and positive impact on local communities.



or sold for continued use), but also that it be imbued with characteristics that give it a solid reputation and give the consumer reason to feel good about buying it. The growing sentiment against overconsumption isn’t just driven by social and environmental concerns. It’s more personal than that. Many people feel weighed down by their own excess and are convinced that they could live happily without most of the things they own. More than a third frequently regret the purchases they make. It is little wonder, then, that two-thirds of us make it a point to rid themselves of unneeded possessions at least once a year. Most people say they could live happily without the majority of the things they own. Some most common sentiments I heard during the interviews I conducted included, “I often buy items that I don’t really need—and I regret it,” “I respect/ admire people who make an effort to reduce their consumption,” “I try to throw out or give away my unneeded possessions at least once a year.” The backlash against excess has brought with it a shift away from the adoration of wealth and conspicuous consumption. We don’t admire free spenders as much as we do those who consume mindfully and with a certain restraint. These are the new role models. Outside the antiques trade, secondhand goods have largely been considered second tier. But there are signs that “used” may be shaking free of its stigma. Among those who do buy secondhand items, saving money is by far the biggest draw. There are signs


that the self-interested impetus for buying previously owned items (saving money) is being joined by other, more community-oriented considerations. A third of Prosumers and a quarter of the mainstream like to buy used goods because their reuse is better for the environment. They also see the value in helping out the seller and getting items that have a history. Though as of right now they are in the minority, their numbers are likely to grow given the higher agreement rates among Prosumers and millennials.

Collaborative Consumption People will always consume. It’s how we survive as individuals and how economies grow. What is changing is the role consumers wish to play within that system and the value we ascribe to the act of “possession.” What determines the value of a product? Is it the pleasure we get from owning it—or from using it? Is something worth more to us because we feel good about how it was made and what the brand represents? Is something worth less to us because we have little faith in our ability to resell it or to extend its lifespan in an altered form? How much does the level and quality of human interaction involved (whether as buyers or sellers, borrowers or lenders) influence our notion of an object’s or service’s worth? Questions such as these are increasingly being asked as part of a new wave of consumerism that is less passive and more outer-directed. It’s a form of consumption that requires a bigger commitment on the part of the purchaser,

but it’s a voluntary commitment that can be as hands-on or impersonal as one would like. For some people, it just means being more mindful about what they buy and more hesitant to throw out rather than reuse, recycle, or give away. For others, it introduces new questions into the consumption cycle: Buy or borrow? Own or share? And for those on the leading edge of this trend, it means becoming highly involved players within the collaborative consumption cycle—perhaps by becoming part of the barter economy, crowdfunding, or even by producing and selling their own goods. Thanks to the Internet and social media, we have far more ways to get into the game than we ever did before. Sharing as a concept—if not necessarily as a practice—holds cross-generational

appeal, however. It is a widely-held belief that society would be better off if people shared more and owned less. High rates of agreement might be expected in countries with socialist roots, but it’s a statement that also garnered majority support in primarily capitalist countries such as the United States (55 percent) and the UK (62 percent). However, not every market is equally ready to move away from ownership in favor of sharing. While it’s a concept they support in theory, it’s not something they’re prepared to restructure their lives in order to accommodate. At least not at present. So, when it comes down to the stark choice of borrowing/ renting or owning most things, 6 in 10 would opt for the latter. Ownership still carries with it the huge perk of convenience. Nevertheless, the fact



that nearly 4 in 10 chose sharing over owning supports the view that sharing will become an increasingly significant sector of the consumer economy, especially as better mechanisms are put in place to facilitate the transfer of goods between individuals. Already, a majority of people believe they can go online and find someone willing to lend or rent them just about anything.

Sharing Is About Value and Values Why borrow or rent rather than buy? For most, the resultant cost savings are a draw, but they’re only the primary draw for a third of the sample. More important is the feeling of being involved in something meaningful—whether that be protecting the environment, contributing to the anti-consumerist movement, or supporting local businesses. Instead of standing by waiting for ineffectual governments to get their acts together, people are looking to contribute to solutions on their own. For many, the sharing economy is also seen as a job creator rather than as a potential threat to employment.

Some Things Are More Shareable than Others Just because people are interested in joining sharing services doesn’t mean they’re ready to lend their own prized possessions to perfect strangers. There is a big difference in people’s minds between joining a car-sharing service such as Zipcar or Daimler’s car2go and actually handing over the keys to one’s own vehicle to a stranger. So, for the




near term at least, the sharing economy will have more in common with traditional rental schemes than with communal ownership. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that two-thirds of our global respondents would be willing to rent at least certain categories of things they own to a stranger. They’re most likely to share items that are inexpensive, impersonal, and easily replaced (e.g., tools, sports equipment), and least likely to share big-ticket items (e.g., car, home) and those that are highly personal (e.g., clothing).

Role of Brands The collaborative economy isn’t just about new forms of retail transactions. It’s about an entirely new way of thinking about consumption—one that involves individuals not as passive consumers but as active participants. And, as far as our global respondents are concerned, we have only just begun a journey that will reshape how goods and services are created and exchanged. What can we expect going forward? By the year 2050, a third or more of our population believes that city dwellers will be more likely to share than own a car, energy production will be in the hands of individual producers, and communally operated healthcare markets will have replaced the current models. If predictions such as these actually come to pass, it will represent a major shakeup for many of today’s industries. Consumers’ reinvention of the old retail models spells good news for them (in terms of increased satisfaction). It 44

holds economic promise as a creator of new types of jobs. And it promises to add value for those businesses and brands that embrace these more consumer-centric models and carve out new roles for themselves. As we will examine next, there are plenty of ways for brands to add value—for themselves and for these new consumers.

Brands as Guarantors and Protectors in the Peer-to-Peer Economy Even when goods and services are being exchanged between individuals, there is scope for brand involvement. Our global sample made it clear that companies have the potential to add a greater sense of confidence and security to the new sharing and peerto-peer-selling models. Around threequarters of the global sample would like to see brands act as guarantors of the products individuals sell online. And many would like brands to serve as intermediaries between themselves and the people they’re buying from or selling to. Traditional retail models rely on trust, typically built over years. As more individuals get into the game, we’ll see new “seals of approval” and rating systems spring up, much as eBay and Amazon Marketplace have used customer feedback as a marker of trust. A transaction could be “Guaranteed by Google” or given the “Sony Seal of Approval,” offering that extra layer of assurance consumers crave. There’s also widespread support for brand warranties being linked to the product itself, not

simply to the original purchaser. Consumers want to know that brands stand behind not only their products, but also the notion of extended (multi-owner/ user) product lifecycles. Don’t want to pay for parking at the airport? Fightcar will rent out your car while you’re away—and even throw a free car wash into the deal. Why should you trust it? Only prescreened members will be able to rent the car, and liability insurance is included. Have a camper you’re willing to rent out? In need of a nail gun or stroller, but just for the weekend? Zilok will act as a go-between and works with both peer-to-peer and business lenders. It lets you save money without the security concerns of Craigslist or another unmonitored service. Looking to sell your old car, a plot of land, or that jewelry you never wear anymore? OLX. in, which bills itself as “India’s largest marketplace,” will help you sell anything from motor vehicles to mobile phones, laptops to luggage. China’s Lenovo now ties most of its warranties to the actual product, via serial number, rather than to the original owner. This sends the message that Lenovo expects its products to last. Adding security to resales, Chanel handbags come with “authenticity cards” embossed with a serial number. That number is also placed within the interior lining on a sticker with a hologram security feature. Outside authenticators such as Etinceler Authentications are also becoming popular with resellers on eBay and other peer-to-peer sites.

Brands as Partners in Sustainability Virgin Atlantic helps travelers save money and reduce their carbon footprints by providing shared cabs from the airport. Women have the option of specifying that they’d like to be paired only with other women. The Taxi2 service is currently in beta testing in London and New York. More retailers are getting serious about cutting back on excess packaging, so mindful consumers can shop with a lighter conscience. Among the pioneers in the “bring your own packaging” space: London’s Unpackaged (now closed), Vancouver’s The Soap Dispensary, and ingredients in Austin, Texas. Begun in the Netherlands in 2007 and now in more than a dozen countries, Repair Café is a nonprofit organization that brings together handy volunteers and people who would like to fix rather than replace their small appliances and other items. The service is free and is sponsored by local and larger businesses. India’s ITC Hotels has positioned itself as a brand offering “responsible luxury.” It provides a luxury experience made “guilt free” through the use of sustainable building materials and processes (all the hotels are LEED Platinum certified), sustainably sourced foods, and the smart use of natural resources. Five of the hotels are powered entirely through ITC-owned wind farms.



By the year 2050, a third or more of our population believes that city dwellers will be more likely to share than own a car, energy production will be in the hands of individual producers, and communally operated healthcare markets will have replaced the current models.


Brands as Proponets of Recycling and Reuse Under its Garment Recycling Program, H&M collected 7.7 million pounds of used clothing worldwide in 2013, which was then resold as is or converted into other products. UK retailer Argos invites customers to donate an old toy and receive in return a £5 voucher. The donated items are sold to raise funds for the Barnardo’s children’s charity. During an eight-week promotion, Sweden’s IKEA turned its Facebook page into a digital flea market where people could buy and sell used IKEA furniture every Sunday. The campaign was intended to inspire customers to live more sustainably by selling their old furnishings rather than throwing them out. Though saving money is one of its draws, collaborative consumption isn’t necessarily about trading down or eliminating luxury from one’s life. It’s about finding purposeful pleasure at whatever price point. A growing number of brands are finding ways to help bring premium goods into the peer-to-peer economy, including luxury online consignment platforms SnobSwap and The RealReal.

Brands as “Lending Libraries” Innovative membership schemes are letting consumers enjoy new products without the financial and emotional costs of ownership. As companies figure out smarter ways to use Big Data, such services will become even more individualized and solution oriented.

In exchange for membership fees starting at $15 a month, subscribers to the RocksBox service receive a box filled with designer jewelry valued at $200 or more. Members can wear the pieces for as long as sixty days and then either return them or buy the pieces they wish to keep at 20 percent off retail. Parents can rent educational toys for their tots through the SparkBox Toys subscription service. Each box contains four age-appropriate toys and can be customized to suit the child’s preferred mode of learning. Subscribers to Bag Borrow or Steal have access to high-end designer handbags, jewelry, sunglasses, and watches. Not ready to spend $3,800 on a Louis Vuitton Melrose Avenue satchel? You can “borrow” it instead for $300 a month.

Brands as Connectors People increasingly are craving community and the deeper interpersonal relationships they feel have been lost in the disconnected hubbub of modern life. Smart brands are offering products and services with a dash of interconnectedness. Launched by home improvement retailer B&Q, Streetclub is a service that helps neighbors come together to make their communities better places to live by facilitating the sharing of tools and other household items, for example. There are currently 1,555 clubs across the UK. Not keen on leaving your beloved pooch at the kennel? Join DogVacay and connect with dog sitters who will mind your pet either at your home or theirs. The service guarantee includes free



pet insurance, 24/7 support, and daily photo updates. BlaBlaCar, available in twelve countries, uses social profiles to connect people who’d like to share a longer-distance car ride. Among other things, members indicate their preferred level of chattiness, ranging from “bla” (just let me look out the window) to “blablabla” (I can’t wait to learn all about your childhood issues). With more than a million people using the service each month, BlaBlaCar saves its members an estimated £216 million annually, while reducing carbon emissions by 700,000 tons. Although this isn’t technically a business, we thought it worth noting a new “moneyless” pub being established in County Galway, Ireland. The Happy Pig, funded through Crowdfunder, will be a community space offering food and drink, courses and events—all paid for not with money, but with the donation of time and services, whether in the form of carpentry, tending the farm, singing, or something else. The idea is to have a space that is innately tied to the lives of people in the community. Founded in Berlin in 2010, Friendsurance uses social networking to join people together in order to qualify for lower group premiums from insurance companies.

Brands as Curators While many of us no longer take pleasure from mindless excess, we continue to enjoy many components of shopping, including the thrill of the hunt and the excitement of uncovering something special and new. More brands are work-


ing to bring this sense of excitement and discovery to people in their homes. Brands as Curators The Birchbox subscription program (“Discover your next everything”) introduces users to new products through a monthly sampling program. The company reports that half its customers return to the website to buy full-size versions of the samples they’ve tried. Though the site is dominated by beauty products, it also includes categories such as specialty foods, stationery, and home decor. Fenumbra, currently in beta testing, is a curated platform that connects buyers to “gallery quality” artwork and donates a portion of the purchase price to a charity chosen either by the buyer or the artist. Conscious Box uses a model similar to Birchbox but with a natural twist. Once a month, subscribers receive a box that includes a mix of snacks, beauty products, and cleaning items. Everything is all natural and non-GMO, and preference is given to fair-trade vendors who operate sustainably. Naked Wines, a crowdsourcing e-retailer, has already attracted 150,000 customers. Members receive substantially discounted wines in exchange for a £20 monthly investment that helps to fund a network of 130 independent winemakers. It may not offer the luxury creds of a 2000 Chateau Petrus Pomerol, but it provides a fun and social way for a new generation of wine drinkers to learn, explore, and connect with others.

Brands as Employers and Partners Just as consumers are carving out new roles for themselves within the retail economy, brands are finding new ways to make use of individuals in their operations. This past winter, the Walgreens drugstore chain partnered with TaskRabbit to deliver over-the-counter cold and flu medicines to customers unable to make it to the store. In an attempt to better compete with Amazon, retail giant Walmart is considering hiring its own customers to make same-day deliveries of online orders. Target is collaborating with three top Pinterest users on party-themed collections to be sold in its stores and online. The UHaul Investors Club invites individuals to invest in a vehicle via crowdfunding and receive a share of the income when the truck is rented. With their superior distribution networks and reach, companies have an opportunity to act as intermediaries between consumers and individual and small-scale creators.

Brands as Champions of Individual Creators and Small Businesses Through its Makers Project, Levi’s works with international artisans to create and sell unique, handcrafted products. TOMS Marketplace, an offshoot of TOMS shoes, is an online platform through which thirty carefully selected “companies with a social mission” sell their goods. Buyers who

were among the first to reserve a 2013 Lincoln MKZ were given the option of choosing from among six customized products or experiences, courtesy of the Lincoln Makers program. Among other options, participants could choose to co-design a piece of jewelry with a master craftsman or work with master eyewear specialist Indivijual to create a custom pair of eyeglasses. GE has partnered with crowdsourcing company Quirky on a line of connected devices for the home. With access to thousands of GE’s patents, Quirky’s 800,000 members submit, vote on, and fine-tune potential inventions. In another initiative, GE has opened up GE Garages, free workspaces equipped with 3-D printers, laser cutters, and other tools in which maker groups can collaborate and invent. Department store Nordstrom has teamed with online retailer Etsy to sell handmade and vintage goods from emerging artists and designers. For too many people, consumption has become a chore and an emotional burden. This may be alarming for those advertisers who equate “inventing desire” with getting people to buy things they don’t actually want or need, but it’s an exciting time for brands that are invested instead in bringing a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment back to the process. As we have seen, the collaborative economy offers myriad ways for businesses to establish new, more impactful relationships with consumers. Brands can insert a higher level of trust and certainty into peer-to-peer transactions. They can reject “planned obsolescence” in favor of products capable of a second or even third life.



Figure 8 / sustainable-fashion-design-contents-page/ diagram-downloads-library/wastehierarchy-8r-extended-diagram-library/


They can make it easier for mindful consumers to turn their best intentions into actions they can be proud of. And they can use the digital data at their disposal to make the collaborative economy more personalized and targeted. As marketers, it is our role to help modern consumers resolve the paradox of no longer enjoying consumption but having to continue to consume anyway. We can do this by reinjecting joy into the equation—by ensuring that consumers genuinely feel good about what they buy, which, more and more, means paying attention to the social components and environmental impact of their purchases. It means working with consumers rather than trying to dazzle them with meaningless gimmicks and fleeting feelings of gratification. It means helping people consume in a way that is better for us all.






Expert Interviews During the course of my research, I had the privilege to speak with many experts in their fields who are working towards making the world a better place. To understand what the perceptions of the public are, many interventions were conducted. A few were held in public spaces, and a few targeted users, inviting them to come and brainstorm collectively about the potential solutions we could incorporate to have a sustainable future. But my work went above and beyond simply understanding user perceptions. To properly identify different motivations and concerns of the user, it was important to delve into the psychology of sustainable behavior too.






Almost all household furniture and fittings are glued together. If they use screws to fit them together it makes more sense as you can take them apart easily. This is called Flexible Design.

On Habitat for Humanity

Radvak studied Environmental Design and Design Thinking. She handles business cases for Habitat for Humanity, creates green jobs, supports circular economy,actively salvages garbage, and engages in volunteer work in the community. Habitat does a lot of pilot projects, workshops, and street festivals. Upcycling is one of their biggest events, where artists and makers display their upcycled products and interactive work. A lot goes into certification for sustainable building solutions and using recycled content.


CHRISTINA RADVAK Deconstruction Manager, Habitat for Humanity, Vancouver

Flexible Design

Everything that impacts the end of use of a product is important. Most things are glued together. Almost all household furniture and fittings are glued together. If they use screws to fit them together it makes more sense as you can take them apart easily. This is called Flexible Design. More modularity and less rigidity in the products will help them sustain more. I don’t think custom items last longer. They are quite inefficient when it comes to manufacturing a one-off. Modular designs can expand to various media. Products made with more than one material can also affect the longevity. If one of the material’s life cycle is low, that brings down the collective life cycle of the product. People value things more when they have an emotional/ sentimental attachment to it.

Circular Economy Across the World

Amsterdam/ Netherlands are huge on circular economy. Their waste segregation to their drainage systems are well thought out. Buying energy stocks rather than ownership is quite efficient too. Concept and context go hand in hand. What we are most afraid of today is the housing crisis, natural resources, hydro-energy and pipelines. Climate change and its international politics. After dismantling a house for a recent project, all the reclaimed wood was used in building something new. Volunteers and different sustainable agencies would use the resources wisely for constructing probably a new housing unit or the interior of a house.

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes matter a lot too. Eating vegetarian food or showering less, going to the farmer’s market or biking everywhere. Little things make a huge difference. How we make decisions about the things we buy and the things we discard. I feel packaging is also a huge problem that one does not have control over in their lives. There are so many ways we can repurpose those things. But who has the time?




Movements fed with the right conditions in a conducive Petri dish can bring change.

On Consumption and Culture

Consumption is contextual to culture. My experience in New Zealand taught me a different aspect of how government could take decisions based on consumption. I did a lot of research into product life cycle, sustainability and C2C. I believe that product design is inherently unsustainable. I started calculating life cycle by the method of carbon footprints. You can chase it all the way down. Human existence and consumption can be calculated through carbon calculations. It is all numerical and easier to prove. Numbers are everything. They tell you the right story. This process is better in getting the right estimate. We do not need to get emotional about it. A speculative framework behind behavior and change can be started by imagining our world in the next twenty-five years. AI, machine learning, and robots are the buzz words.

On His Theory of Movement and Anti-Movement

The sling shot method starts by imagining that we are on an elliptical around the sun. We can plot everything in this phase. You build on everything that you know. In five-year intervals movement talks about how the majority of the human race will behave. Anti-movement talks about the small drivers of change that influence our behaviors. These



Professor and Program Director, ISDI Parsons Mumbai

are smaller whirlpools on the fringes of the bigger hurricane. Slow cooking, digital detox, veganism, etc. came to a tipping point where it became a movement. Movements fed with the right conditions in a conducive Petri dish can bring change. Some factors are like mindedness of place, time, and economy. It’s a yin-yang. Anti-movement is parallel to movement in a broad frame of reference. What India did in the 1970’s Oprah talks about now. Other conditions are affected by the right-wing nationalist government in power. Politics today is an anti-movement. Everything is swinging towards the right. Non-liberalism wants to claim and reclaim everything. Patanjali is also a movement of nationalism where the concentration was on banning international products and embracing “Videshi” brands. Antimovement here is becoming the movement. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Future of Mankind

It is not just an age of realization, it is the age of asserting your own identity. Another factor is scarcity of bio-resource, which is a fertile ground for fuel minimalism. You buy things without thinking twice. But when there is a scarcity of resources, when only 25,000 cellphones are available, what will you do? In that scenario, I hope that there are no cars. Everything is mass transit system. Owning a car is like owning a yacht, paying heavy taxes and enormous amounts of money. Owning a car has to be recreational. There are a lot of parallels available to us. You need to identify the right conditions to create the big bang. There are five metameasures to carbon calculation, infrastructure, mobility, energy, water, food, and waste. Product manufacturing is equal to waste. It takes 2,500 units of energy to manufacture iPhones. And 4,000 units of energy to recycle it. We’re in a deficit of 1,500 units. It’s not at all sustainable or profitable. It is the politics of emotion. To create a large-scale change, commerce has to change. It is like saying organic food would be more profitable if it was less expensive. In India, everything goes through seven layers of change. In the United States, everything is trashed and taken apart. No one is bothered because the change is too slow.




You can start by designing for Affordance and Annoyance. Small voids in our everyday workflow are the doors to opportunity. A little bit of Annoyance + Fun + Engagement = Good Design.

Sustainable Practices

A lot of sustainable practices are taking place in Asia and Africa. It being an Asian century , we can say that USA has already backed out of the Paris Agreement, so a lot of solutions would start manifesting themselves inspired from Central Asia and other parts of Asia. You can redefine how currently some products or systems operate, draw inspiration from sustainable design practices from different parts of the world and you can come up with amazing solutions for this part of the world.



Ph.D. in Human Behavior and Design, Cornell University

On Behavioral Design

Objects communicate with people according to who they are, at that point in time. Objects and meaning are time capsules; they transcend time and space. It can change meaning so dynamically that we sometimes cannot interpret. We can only NUDGE , motivate and create suggestive design. We have not yet cracked the correct equation to design for behavior change. It is very personalized, to objectify a behavior would require a lot of AI and machine learning. (Like you interpreted what even the designer did not intend to.) You can start by designing for Affordance and Annoyance. Small voids in our everyday workflow are the doors to opportunity. A little bit of Annoyance + Fun + Engagement = Good Design. Not being yourself will help you think radically. What are people struggling for?

Clarity through design

We need to be more skeptical of traditional media. We always need to question if that is true or not. A lot of psychologists have done a lot of work in behavioral science and understanding human behaviors. We don’t read them. We need to be open to merging more disciplines in our work. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Tons of research is out there. A lot of ergonomic chairs keep getting designed every year. It is not about the chair. We are an agrarian species. Our workflow and routines intrinsically had a lot of physical exercise. The crux of the matter is, as long as you have some kind of activity in your work, sitting is not the new smoking. Design a work life that is more active and is not about designing a new ergonomic chair.

Where are we heading?

We are heading towards a more experimental way of thinking, like scientists used to do. We make more, test more, experiment more with people’s emotions, behaviors, lifestyles, and then release products into the world, which is a good thing. Behavior change can be incorporated early on from high school kids— teach them new ways of thinking and implementing things.



An Eames chair never landed in a landfill, because it is an iconic piece of furniture.

What is sustainability?

I’m from China, where waste was not culturally acceptable. Everything was either consumed or given away. Because of mass manufacturing a lot of products are undervalued in the society, so it is our responsibility as designers to repurpose products. The whole idea of making good design accessible to everyone, not only the affluent in the society, is the real need. Millennials have constraints of making money, and the ones who are more informed do not have the liberty to choose sustainable solutions. Policy change brings a lot of difference in behavior change. If you never get out of the gate and want to do everything sustainably, you’ll never really make any headway. It’s a chicken-and-egg situation. Sourcing everything locally does not mean it is sustainable. Does it actually mean it has the smallest footprint? These are some of the ethics you actually want to embrace. Just reclaiming materials is also not sustainable. How do you fold these back to the system?



Fellow at SVA Incubator and Brooklyn-based Designer


The whole concept of minimalism is about cherishing a certain item and not having to own multiples of the same. We need to induce sustainable habits and not products. Plenty of things are likewise subconsciously in the background, working their way to your mind. An Eames chair never landed in a landfill, because it is an iconic piece of furniture. It is probably the most sustainable chair that exists. How can we make products that are more iconic? How can we pass on our valuable items to someone who’ll actually enjoy them? Statistics show that more and more Americans rent storage spaces because of hyper-consumption. Is there a way to cherish and still be able to dispose responsibly?

Behavior Change and Loss Aversion

One cannot just design without policy change and system restoration. There is only so much you can do with design. Sustainability is BS! Brands influence us. Nothing is perfect. The bad practices in the industry are rampant. When big companies offer retirement savings accounts, they also contribute the same amount. They encourage everyone to sign up. There’s a very high percentage of people who do not sign up, because of our quirky human behavior to resist a change. So, these companies, instead of making people sign up, automatically enroll them in the scheme and allow the person to opt out. It is like the unsubscribe button. Loss aversion is a great design tool. Rather than making someone do something voluntarily, it is easier to make them opt out rather than actively participate.



You need to ask, “Do you need to use this product at all?” The best way to be sustainable is to not buy anything.



Human-centered Design Research, Cornell University

Social Resilience

Social impact that doesn’t cause harm is hard for a lot of people. Cheap mass manufactured products, modularity on demand, is the way for designers to increase value. More expensive products focus more on design. You need to ask, “Do you need to use this product at all?” The best way to be sustainable is to not buy anything. No system can impact anything on people’s lives, not even recycling. Elimination of the product upfront is the solution. Shared and regenerative design is also a way to look at it. All aspects of the shared economy have potential. Acts of sharing build awesome social ties. In a community, you like people that are similar to you, communities that are socially resilient, where people are different from one another. We are not separate from nature. Challenges that we face impact not only us but the rest of the world.

Extraction Economy

Everyone does not have a goal. People do not want to do things that do not affect them. Extractive versus non-extractive economy is an interesting avenue. An “Extraction Economy” is a concept from economics that refers to a nation that derives most of its productivity from nonrenewable resources, with the implication that elites are skimming a certain percentage off the top, and instead of investing that money in productive enterprises, spend it on nonproductive activities instead. There is a new book out that takes this concept and uses it to explain why some countries seem mired in a permanent state of poverty. There are several levels of stakeholders. Who stands to benefit? People making money, who understand what is going on here, SME, community members, people one degree away, people who are going to notice a change, people who are going to lose business, and people whom it is going to hurt. Outsourcing pollution and moving our plants out of the state creates different carbon offsets. Someone is getting affected somewhere. Minimalism is a thing. If nothing goes here do not put anything here.




Shelves are filled with objects that we use daily. They look disposable, scream disposable, and are meaningless. The same is resonated and transcended within us.

Having studied design in Seattle, she always wanted to create a business of her own. After earning her master’s degree from Pratt, she started her own studio in 2008 with her partner, Joe. For three years they focused on consulting and client-based work. Then in 2011 they started their own product line. Thanks to their complementary skills, the business soon became a success.

Object with Stories

We are hyper consumers and products do not mean much to us than solve a purpose. We ourselves need to be more passionate and decisive about what we choose to buy. Where are the objects coming from? Who made them? Trying to shed light on the artists, designers, and the process. The people behind the scene are the ones that are important. We are dedicated to approach the artifact business from an anti-industrial


SALLYANN CORN Founder, Fruitsuper Design

revolution point of view. A place where workers are happy, satisfied, and motivated to make the product induces a good vibe in them. Why should this object exist? What is the purpose? What is the value? Shelves are filled with objects that we use daily. They look disposable, scream disposable, and are meaningless. The same resonated and transcended within us. A farm-to-table approach for products is what we are trying to do here. We don’t put the same philosophy while designing new products.


We also focus a lot on materiality and appropriate process efficiency, singularity of materials, and cost efficiency. One material use in a product works great as material separations in a product increases its cost of manufacturing. One-material philosophy also improves the longevity and the quality of the product. It lasts longer. Single finish, brass coated, or unfinished products are more sustainable. Therefore, they are one of a kind! There is a difference between old and aged product. Ageing naturally says that it is elegant and luxurious.

Our Process

Our process starts with questioning the basic need for a product to exist. If something doesn’t need an improvement, we do not make it. We’d rather create something that you can’t find but want. Different categories have to be explored before creating something new. Collaborations with studios/ designers to give them a bigger voice. Their aesthetic sense, values, and products with purpose that resonate with our philosophy and what we are looking for in these small studios. Behavior change in something that is in the background. Making it non-aware enhances the experience. More of our products are supposed to slow you down and are ritualistic. Would we be annoyed? Are we asking for too much? Look at African craftsmen and how they think more about product lifecycles and generational heirloom products. Always ask why? Does it matter? Would anyone notice? What if we stop?






HACK:PACK This project started with me cataloging my own consumption in terms of packaging going to waste. Product packaging is one of the most common evils that we encounter in our daily lives. Hack:Pack is a participatory co-creation workshop on the future of packaging. It was conducted to understand people’s dependencies on packaging and how can we transform our habits around it in the future. The participants were all designers who were keen to brainstorm around sustainable futures. The introduction was given by a presentation on the invisible effects of packaging waste. It was followed by a small warmup session where the participant was supposed to select one packaging type—for example, cigarette packaging, Amazon boxes, etc. Then they were given a worksheet where they had to answer three basic questions around zero packaging future: How would the product be sold in retail stores? How would they carry the product? How would they store the products?





This warm-up session was twenty minutes long, and the aim was to facilitate radical thinking and to imagine a future of zero packaging. In that way, they were able to reimagine all the sustainable possibilities. The participants then shared their ideas among everyone. Then the participants were asked to pair up with someone they didn’t know. Both the participants were allowed to pick a packaging type and design constraint. For example, “Design a shampoo packaging for gifting,” or “Design Blue Apron packaging for decomposition.” Each participant was asked to write the top three attributes that came to their mind when they thought of the packaging type and design constraint together. They had to write the values that they wanted to bring out of the design solution.


They were asked to select futuristic scenarios together. The scenarios ranged from technology, policy changes, and material innovation to economy and consumer attitudes and behavior. All these topics were intended to help them take their initial ideas further and keep them in sync with what the world needs right now. The next sketching session lasted for thirty minutes during which each team came up with a concept, sketched out their idea, branded their concept (named it), wrote a small narrative about it, and shared how the new concept changed the experience of using the product. Each team presented their idea and shared what value their concept would bring into the world.




Curation of Ideas Each idea was differentiated into ZERO PACKAGING and FUTURE PACKAGING. It was further categorized into values, experiences, and scenarios. Insights were found by connecting the scenarios to the new ideas, experiences, and values. The majority of insights included making the packaging blend into everyday lives, making use of artists to customize the packaging, utilizing new materials to change the function, and making the packaging more engaging and experiential.






Disposibility and Convenience The popularity of disposable products rose dramatically around the economic boom after WWII. It started with the manufacturing of disposable plastic containers and packaging. It quickly trickled down during the Fast Fashion Movement. Now, clothes are worn for a season and discarded, there is something called “Street Wear�. We have defined and redefined clothing over time. There was a time when clothes were worn until they were torn. Even then, they were considered valuable enough to mend. The convenience of use and throw goods and our fast-moving URBAN NOMADIC culture has changed things a lot. The throw away culture has become so ubiquitous and popular and in fact normal that possessions that used to


be considered generational heirlooms have also become disposable. Who has the space to store them? From appliances to products and gadgets, everything is becoming smarter to suit our ever changing needs. In particular, the focus of this work is the Urban Nomads and Millennials. They have unique consumption habits. They are more influenced by family, friends and strangers through social media. They tend to be distrustful of traditional advertising techniques and heavily rely on online reviews. ratings and prefer researching products and brands. They are the ones that are constantly on the move in pursuit of their career and dreams. They are the ones who move with such great frequency thus falling into the cycling pattern of buying and disposing. Millennials, represent 43% of the overall US population and their constant on the go lifestyle results in the “youthification of cities” bringing subculture, trends and technology shifts. They are more confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change. They believe in purposeful living, the one which adds value to everything you do and is meaningful. While many generations have sought out purpose, Millennials make it a greater priority than ever before, in everything from their consumption to their work to their communities to their relationships. Aaron Hurst, economist talks about how “human scale technology”, how the boom of internet and social media sparked our collective imagination in thinking about how technology can be lever-


aged for self-expression, community building and service. This is called the Human-Scale technology. As our lives have become more public, so many people have windows into our activities, networks, points of view. And this level of transparency has created new ways to display our aspirational selves. We want to show off our impact and compassion, we want to show off our creativity and expressiveness. we want to build a large community to demonstrate our social prowess and choices. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is what this generation follows. Its known for its desire to make a difference, grow, and share its passion with the world. Generation Disrupt (Generation X), the Environmental, economic and political turmoil, their concept of profession and personal Longevity of purpose, changing families and evolving roles, new social sciences, positive psychology, the change in the way leaders think, accelerated globalization, a shifting social context where organizations and individuals step in when they see a gap in what government can accomplish and blending of different government, non-profit and corporate sectors have all resulted in shaping the society that we live in now. There are many movements that have gained traction over the last decade, including resource, sharing, maker (DIY), happiness, reputation, giving, creative and experience. Together these movements are the new drivers of change and economy.

Figure 9 / Adoption Curve - https://www.



The Concept of “Jugaad” Jugaad is a colloquial Hindi word that roughly translates as ‘‘an innovative fix; an improvised solution born from ingenuity and cleverness.’’ Jugaad is, quite simply, a unique way of thinking and acting in response to challenges; it is the gutsy art of spotting opportunities in the most adverse circumstances and resourcefully improvising solutions using simple means. Jugaad is about doing more with less. Jugaad is practiced by almost all Indians in their daily lives to make the most of what they have. Jugaad applications include finding new uses for everyday objects—Indian kitchens are replete with empty Coke or Pepsi bottles reused as ad-hoc containers for dried legumes or condiments—or inventing new utilitarian tools using everyday objects, like a makeshift truck cobbled together with a diesel engine slapped onto a cart (interestingly, the origin of the word jugaad, in Punjabi, literally describes such makeshift vehicles). The word jugaad is also applied to any use of an ingenious way to ‘‘game the system.’’ For instance, millions of cellphone users in India rely on ‘‘missed calls’’ to communicate messages to each other using a prearranged protocol between the caller and receiver: think of it as free textless text messaging. For example, your carpooling partner may give you a ‘‘missed call’’ in the morning indicating he just left his house and is on his way to pick you up. Hence, the word jugaad carries a slightly negative


connotation for some. But by and large, the entrepreneurial spirit of jugaad is practiced by millions in India simply to improvise clever—and completely legitimate—solutions to everyday problems. In this book, we delve into the frugal and flexible mindset of thousands of ingenious entrepreneurs and enterprises practicing jugaad to creatively address critical socioeconomic issues in their communities. The entrepreneurial spirit of jugaad is not limited to India. It is widely practiced in other emerging economies such as China and Brazil, where entrepreneurs are also pursuing growth in difficult circumstances. Brazilians have their own word for this approach: gambiarra. The Chinese call it zizhu chuangxin. The Kenyans refer to it as jua kali. The French have a term too—Systeme D. Throughout this book we profile jugaad entrepreneurs from Argentina, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, India, Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines, and elsewhere who have created simple yet effective solutions to address vexing problems that their fellow citizens face.

Capitalism The origins of Capitalism began with the birth of classical economics, the theory about the behavior of markets that was developed in the late 18th and 19th centuries by European political economists and philosophers Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus. Adam Smith’s book on this theory was

influential in shaping economic thinking to this day. It stated that the wealth of nations was based on trade between parties, not acquisitions of gold. If two entities are allowed to exchange products of value because they see an opportunity to earn a profit, then the total wealth of the nation will increase. Today, this increase of economic wealth is still the dominating objective for nations as it is seen as a path to prosperity. Lou Pizante, CFO/COO at Goodcorps stated “Yes, in principle if you have degrowth, you cut prosperity. If you are not growing the top line, and arc growing the bottom line, people will be worse of. You either have to grow the top line or decrease the bottom line.�

Economic Degrowth At the other end of the spectrum there are ecological economists and environmental scientists who feel that the capitalistic economic policies from the past 70 years have not worked. The downscaling of production of goods and services reduces the activities that reduce carbon emissions and extraction of natural resources ultimately diminishing impact to the environmental and global climate change. Growth above a level that satisfies basic needs does not improve psychological well being. It has more costs that benefits specially environmental. The core for the 21st century economics is not how nations get rich, but how they manage without growth. How can degrowth become stable and prosperous? However more importantly issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, resource RESEARCH & METHODOLOGY


depletion and waste disposal lands where raw materials are extracted, are problems the system has no built in mechanism can fix. A strategy of degrowth puts solving these issues at the forefront of its goals. Instead of focusing material wealth, it redefines prosperity by emphasizing human relationships and devoting more time to family, community and culture.

Collaborative Consumption Collaborative Consumption. The Sharing Economy. Chances are, you’ve heard these terms being thrown around lately in the news, scholarly articles, or online discussion forums. And much like the concepts of “global village” and the “internet of things”, they are concepts that are not understood by many, but which are nevertheless central to understanding the modern age. So what exactly is meant by the term “Sharing Economy?” Basically, the sharing economy refers to a socio-economic system that is built around the sharing of human and physical resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organisations. The term began to appear in the mid-2000s, as new business structures emerged inspired by enabling social technologies and an increasing sense of urgency around global population growth and resource depletion. This business model is behind the creation of eBay, Craigslist, and Krrb - major online marketplaces where people are free to search for desired items, advertise products and services, and negotiate prices in a way that is open and not dependent on a centralized authority. This concept is also present in emerging sectors such as peer-to-peer business services (such as Alibaba), social lending, peer-to-peer accomodations (Airbnb), peer-to-peer travel experiences, peer-to-peer task assignments travel advising, car sharing (Uber), or commute-bus sharing. These systems take a variety of forms, but are commonly developed around the idea of using information technology and peer communities to empower individuals, corporations, nonprofit organizations and governments to distribute, share and reuse excess capacity in goods and services. Central to this sort of system is the revolution made possible by digital technology and the internet revolution. As more and more of our activities 82

are quantified online, our behavior is becoming commodified and our actions becoming a new form of social currency. It is believed by many that this trend will continue, moving us away from centralized, depersonalized systems of ownership and distribution towards an economy built on social connections, reputation indexes, and even trust This is what is commonly referred to as “Reputation Marketing”, which is a intrinsic part of the Sharing Economy. At the heart of this trend are such things as social media, online shopping, and online reviews. With everything from used goods, furniture, clothing and cars to accommodations up for review, people are turning to web-based recommendations like never before. In fact, a 2012 study done by Neilsen Media Research suggested that 70% of all consumers trust online reviews, which are now second only to personal recommendations. For many people, this represents a positive development, since it means we are moving away from the depersonalized world of institutional production toward a new economy built on social connections and rewards. One such individual is Marina Gorbis, the head of the Institute for the Future (IFTF), a California-based think-tank concerned with long-term planning and future studies. In her book The Nature Of The Future: Dispatches From The Socialstructed World, she explores the development of what she calls “socialstructuring”.

In Gorbis’ view, socialstructing will present opportunities to create new kinds of social organizations – systems for producing not merely goods but also meaning, purpose, and greater good. A key aspect in the rise of socialstructuring, according to Gorbis, is the development of social currencies. These include electronic banking (a la Paypal), but have expanded in recent years to include completely decentralized cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Namecoin, Lightcoin, and many others. These latter forms of digital currency operate much differently than regular currencies, in that they rely on public demand and collective support rather than market principles, centralized governments or banks. Beyond social currencies is the development of social organizations that are dedicated to building a reputation or trust metric, which in turn can be redeemed for real and virtual products and services. The Whuffie Bank is a good example of this, an organization that takes its name from the reputationbased currency used in the novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, by Cory Doctorow. The Whuffie Bank, which is headqaurtered in Buenos Aires, issues whuffies based on a reputation algorithm that blends information from different social networks to measure the online reputation of its contributors. As they say on their website: “As we develop and refine the algorithm that tracks public user activity over the net, the whuffie will become an accurate reflection of your web reputation. And as the Internet and social networks become a large part of people’s lives, your web influence will become an increas-



ingly accurate reflection of you.”Then there is the MetaCurrency Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to “building the core infrastructure for open sourcing money & currencies.” Basically, this amount to inventing the tools needed for an open-source economy and social exchanges, and includes everything from developing the necessary technology to rethinking the very concept of currency and how it is valued. They reason that currency is a form of technology used to map “flows” (i.e. human behavior) in a way that is similar to writing - another form of ancient technology. Human beings, as social creatures, are in the habit of generating wealth through their shared experiences, work, and interaction, all of which is measured and valued. Building on this, the Project seeks to use the emerging global community powered by the internet to create a new kind of economy, one which is build on “instrinsic motivation” rather than extrinsic. In other words, they hope to foster an economy which is driven by personal ingenuity and desire, rather than a system of rewards or punishments. Another proponent of this change is Rachel Botsman – consultant, author, former director at the William J. Clinton Foundation, and founder of the Collaborative Lab. In her ongoing series of lectures, consultations, and her book What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, she addresses the transformative power collaboration will have, giving rise to such things as “reputation capital” and the “reputation economy”.


According to Bostman, in recent years there has been an explosion in collaborative consumption. This has embraced everything from the web-powered sharing of cars, to apartments, and even skills. In short, people are realizing the power of technology to enable the sharing and exchange of assets, skills and spaces in ways and on a scale that was never before possible. The irony in this, as she states, is that this emerging trend is actually taking us back to old market principles which were thought to have been abandoned with modern industrial economy. In short, this decentralizing, distributed trend has more in common with bartering and shopping at the local agora.

Within the Principles of Circular Economy In a circular economy, economic activity builds and rebuilds overall system health. The concept recognises the importance of the economy needing to work effectively at all scales – for large and small businesses, for organisations and individuals, globally and locally. Transitioning to a circular economy does not only amount to adjustments aimed at reducing the negative impacts of the linear economy. Rather, it represents a systemic shift that builds longterm resilience, generates business and economic opportunities, and provides environmental and societal benefits.

non-linear systems unambiguously revealed the complex, interrelated, and therefore unpredictable nature of the world we live in – more akin to a metabolism than a machine. With current advances, digital technology has the power to support the transition to a circular economy by radically increasing virtualisation, de-materialisation, transparency, and feedback-driven intelligence.

The model distinguishes between technical and biological cycles. Consumption happens only in biological cycles, where food and biologically-based materials (such as cotton or wood) are designed to feed back into the system through processes like composting and anaerobic digestion. These cycles regenerate living systems, such as soil, which provide renewable resources for the economy. Technical cycles recover and restore products, components, and materials through strategies like reuse, repair, remanufacture or (in the last resort) recycling. The notion of circularity has deep historical and philosophical origins. The idea of feedback, of cycles in real-world systems, is ancient and has echoes in various schools of philosophy. It enjoyed a revival in industrialised countries after World War II when the advent of computer-based studies of




German chemist and visionary Michael Braungart went on to develop, together with American architect Bill McDonough, the Cradle to Cradle™ concept and certification process. This design philosophy considers all material involved in industrial and commercial processes to be nutrients, of which there are two main categories: technical and biological. The Cradle to Cradle framework focuses on design for effectiveness in terms of products with positive impact and reducing the negative impacts of commerce through efficiency. Cradle to Cradle design perceives the safe and productive processes of nature’s ‘biological metabolism’ as a model for developing a ‘technical metabolism’ flow of industrial materials. Product components can be designed for continuous recovery and reutilisation as biological and technical nutrients within these metabolisms.


Walter Stahel, architect and industrial analyst, sketched in his 1976 research report to the European Commission ‘The Potential for Substituting Manpower for Energy’, co-authored with Genevieve Reday, the vision of an economy in loops (or circular economy) and its impact on job creation, economic competitiveness, resource savings, and waste prevention. Credited with having coined the expression “Cradle to Cradle” in the late 1970s, Stahel worked at developing a “closed loop” approach to production processes and created the Product Life Institute in Geneva more than 25 years ago. It pursues four main goals: product-life extension, long-life goods, reconditioning activities, and waste prevention. It also insists on the importance of selling services rather than products, an idea referred to as the ‘functional service economy’, now more widely subsumed into the notion of ‘performance economy’. Stahel argues that the circular economy should be considered a framework: as a generic notion, the circular economy draws on several more specific approaches that gravitate around a set of basic principles. circular-economy/schools-of-thought/



“Industrial ecology is the study of material and energy flows through industrial systems”. Focusing on connections between operators within the ‘industrial ecosystem’, this approach aims at creating closed-loop processes in which waste serves as an input, thus eliminating the notion of an undesirable by-product. Industrial ecology adopts a systemic point of view, designing production processes in accordance with local ecological constraints whilst looking at their global impact from the outset, and attempting to shape them so they perform as close to living systems as possible. This framework is sometimes referred to as the ‘science of sustainability’, given its interdisciplinary nature, and its principles can also be applied in the services sector. With an emphasis on natural capital restoration, industrial ecology also focuses on social wellbeing.


“Natural capital” refers to the world’s stocks of natural assets including soil, air, water and all living things. In their book “Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution”, Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins describe a global economy in which business and environmental interests overlap, recognizing the interdependencies that exist between the production and use of human-made capital and flows of natural capital.


Initiated by former Ecover CEO and Belgian businessman Gunter Pauli, the zis an open-source movement bringing together concrete case studies, initially compiled in an eponymous report handed over to the Club of Rome. As the official manifesto states, ‘using the resources available in cascading systems, the waste of one product becomes the input to create a new cash flow’. Based on 21 founding principles, the Blue Economy insists on solutions being determined by their local environment and physical/ecological characteristics, putting the emphasis on gravity as the primary source of energy. The report, which doubles up as the movement’s manifesto, describes ‘100 innovations that can create 100 million jobs within the next 10 years’, and provides many examples of winning South-South collaborative projects— another original feature of this approach intent on promoting its hands-on focus.






THE SWEATSHOP A Pop-up Experience The UN predicts that in 2050, the world population will amount to nine billion people. As a direct result, the world is running out of food. According to the UN, we need to produce 70 percent more food in the next forty years or face a hunger problem that is even more pronounced than it is today. Yet we continue to overpopulate the planet, use up resources, and ignore all the warning signs. It is completely unsustainable. An example of speculative design would be the Foragers Designs for an Overpopulated Planet.


Often designers speculate dystopian futures in order to prepare for worstcase scenarios, assuming that everything will go badly eventually and the resources will be depleted. In their book, Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming, Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby look at evolutionary processes and molecular technologies and examine how we can take control. In their view, governments and industries will not solve the problem. Instead, groups of people will need to use available knowledge to build their own solutions, from the bottom up.

of society, who may initially appear extreme and specialist—guerrilla gardeners, garage biologists, freegan gleamers, etc. By adapting and expanding these strategies, we can use them as models to speculate on what might happen in the future. This inspired me to create a pop-up dystopian experience.

So far, we have not really embraced the power to modify ourselves. What if we could extract nutritional value from non-human foods using a combination of synthetic biology and new digestive devices inspired by digestive systems of other mammals, birds, fish, and insects? A group of people would take their fate into their own hands and start building DIY devices. They would use synthetic biology to create “microbial stomach bacteria,� along with electronic and mechanical devices, to maximize the nutritional value of the urban environment, making up for any shortcomings in the commercially available but increasingly limited diet. These people would be the new urban foragers. Foraging illustrates the contrast between bottom-up and top-down responses to a massive problem and the role played by technical and scientific knowledge. It builds on existing cultures currently working on the edges


Figure 9 / Dunne & Raby, Foragers



THE SWEATSHOP presents a dystopian future where groups of people would have to use their hands-on skills and available knowledge to build their own bottom-up solutions. It looks at evolutionary processes and technologies to explore the future of human behaviors to gain control of their own evolution. The experience is designed to explore and enrich participants’ self-understanding of their consumption and its repercussions. It uses design as a unique mode of socio-cultural inquiry, to materialize an alternate worldview and understand the extent of human adaptation. We make choices every day. All the choices have an impact on our environment. THE SWEATSHOP looks at all these small choices and uses them to extrapolate our future.


IDENTIFY: First, they identify what is the most difficult daily activity for them to do.



ADAPT: According to their choice, they would get a survival kit for the future, which will help them design their life and create outfits for their prescribed task.


CREATE: Then they would design and create their outfit according to their dystopian persona.


EMBODY: Finally, a grand photoshoot would help them see themselves in a new light. This adds an element of engagement as they share their weird outfits with the world through social media.






REVIVAL - A Pop-up Repair Cafe JEANPAL - Pay for the raw material, not the product OBIT - Value in Discarded Objects




I have grown up in a culture of Jugaad, which means makeshift. Everything goes through 7 layers of change. Electrical and electronic products are increasingly hard to repair, not upgradeable and often unsupported by manufacturers beyond their warranty period. As we produce more and more of these items, global levels of electronic waste are escalating beyond our control, causing huge amounts of environmental degradation and posing serious health risks to communities around the world. Governments are beginning to notice the global urgency of this topic. The ‘Right to Repair’ campaigns in the United States pushed for manufacturers to be legally obliged to release manuals to the general public, and recently the European Parliament voted to make consumer products more durable and easier to repair. That led me to think, How might we encourage people to repair before discarding their objects?






REVIVAL is a pop-up cafe, where people can come together and engage in reviving their objects, with the help of volunteers and experts. We throw away vast amounts of stuff. Even things with almost nothing wrong, and which could get a new lease on life after a simple repair. The trouble is, lots of people have forgotten that they can repair things themselves or they no longer know how. Knowing how to make repairs is a skill quickly lost. Society doesn’t always show much appreciation for the people who still have this practical knowledge, and against their will they are often left standing on the sidelines. Their experience is never used, or hardly ever. The Repair Café changes all that! People who might otherwise be sidelined are getting involved again. Valuable practical knowledge is getting passed on. Things are being used for longer and don’t have to be thrown away. This reduces the volume of raw materials and energy needed to make new products. It cuts CO2 emissions, for example, because manufacturing new products and recycling old ones causes CO2 to be released. The Repair Café teaches people to see their possessions in a new light. And, once again, to appreciate their value. The Repair Café helps change people’s mindset. This is essential to kindle people’s enthusiasm for a sustainable society. But most of all, the Repair Café just wants to show how much fun repairing things can be, and how easy it often is. Why don’t you give it a go? Visitors bring their broken items from home. Together with the specialists they start making their repairs in the Repair Café. It’s an ongoing learning process. If you have nothing to repair, you can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Or you can lend a hand with someone else’s repair job. You can also get inspired at the reading table – by leafing through books on repairs and DIY. It is more accessible than a dedicated shared space, and people can track its location and can reach at their own convenience. Collaborations with Companies like Home Depot and mc master, who believe in supporting such endeavors, can help with the equipment and the association called open repair alliance which takes the initiative to conduct repair workshops, can support by providing volunteers and experts.



The customers would come to know about revival, through social media and other physical advertising channels. They can look up on the website to see its location and timing. Each day is a different kind of repair. Once they upload a picture of what they want to repair, they can choose to walk-in anytime or book a consult for dedicated expertise.



Revival also has a small retail section where You can chose to resell your used products. But before that, you have are supposed to write a few sentences personifying the object. People are able to relate and embrace the object more, if it is personified. You can also leave your social media names, so that the next person can tag you and express their shared interest in your object. It becomes a living trail.



This system creates value by making the service more accessible, benefitting both the customers and the volunteers, by exchanging hand-on skills and equipping people with the capability to repair and stories to share.But most importantly, it aims to strengthen the cohesive social interactions around reuse and repair, and documents each and every citizen’s frustration and hours of repair, to create a compelling advocacy for designers, manufacturers and policy makers, to make more durable and repairable products. However, the voice of concerned citizens and their discontent with the status quo are rarely part of these conversations. As organisations coordinating community repair events, we accumulate vast amounts of information from first-hand experience about recurrent faults and the challenges we face in repairing them. With the weight of evidence behind us, we can make our voices heard. Each item in the database represents a citizen who took hours out of their life to learn what went wrong with their device, and to learn how to fix it. This makes our data more powerful than any petition or online complaint. Changing the way we make, support and repair products is a task that requires more than what any one organisation can do alone. By compiling insights from thousands of community repair events worldwide, we can build a case for more durable and repairable products that will be hard for manufacturers, designers and policy-makers to ignore. Our expertise to create value through repair and reuse and generating stories around it, gives us the opportunity to make this happen and our vision is to make it permanent, provide other emerging communities to create their own repair cafes and be an active advocate of the importance of repair.




Our wardrobes are often filled with clothes that we hardly wear. It’s not a surprise. We are all a victim to fast fashion and changing styles. According to Ellen MacArthur foundation, jeans and cotton are the most owned pieces of clothing. But at the same time, the these materials save more energy and resources than others, if recycled. I recently came across a business case where, Philips had to come up with a new system of leasing light as an energy source, and charging their customers for the performance and service, rather than the installed devices. Putting these 2 things together, it made me think, would you rather pay for the performance, than the product? 118

JeanPal is a service where you can lease the raw material and chose to do whatever you want with it. This is a formula that keeps in mind the well-being of the earth and its resources. Rumor has it; on average 30% of garments in our closets have not been worn for almost a year. Sounds familiar? JeanPal is a guilt-free solution for conscious people that have a desire for newness. After a year, or, when the jeans are worn out, you can send them back to us and already try out a new pair. Why own your jeans? With JeanPal you always wear new, up-to-date jeans without

owning them. Just wear them and after a year, or when the jeans are completely worn out, you can send them to us. You can switch to a new pair. JeanPal recycle the old ones. The old ones will be recycled to make new wonderful items. Recycling saves water, resources and waste.

JeanPal, is an all jeans store, from where you sign up and enter a leasing program for your clothes. For example, you leased a jeans jacket, or a pair of jeans, for which you pay a monthly minimal fee for unlimited repairs and replacements. You also receive updates every season, so that you can swap the pair of jeans, if you are already bored with it. All you have to do it hit the SEND BACK button. They will send you a return package which lets you chose what you want to do with your pair of jeans.



You can send it for a repair, you can swap it for something new, give it away or recycle it after a few years of wearing it. If you chose to recycle, they provide you with a few options. You can chose what you want your jeans to be converted into. It’s a satisfying feeling to know that you are wearing something new, that used to be something else. You can also track at what stage of recycling is your jeans. Thus creating a transparent system for people to have constant feedbacks.


What makes the system more effective is the idea of raw material ownership and sustainable choices. It’s a more circular system, where the raw material again goes into the manufacturing process. Our expertise in leveraging the established channels of raw material recycling and providing customers with the performance, helps us create value. Ellen MacArthur predicts an increased amount of employments through 122

recycling. And Jeanpal’s vision also includes creating a better service and more durable and everlasting design of products. We are surrounded with a community of forward thinking people. True pioneers, visionaries and change makers. Together we share the same concerns for our planet and make some change.





If we look around our homes, we’ll find that they are filled with a collection of objects we think we love. With shopping becoming more and more convenient, we often succumb to impulsive consumption that leads to clutter. In Marie Kondo’s book on decluttering, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, she urges you to get rid of things that are weighing you down in order to lead simpler, less cluttered lives, both physically and mentally. But how can we make sure we are disposing of things responsibly?



When customers upload a picture of an item they want to get rid of, Obit acts as an assistant and asks them targeted questions to elicit a thoughtful response. It helps the user decide whether to keep the item, donate it, resuscitate it, or trade it.




If the person decides to trade or donate it, Obit sends them a memorializing tool kit that enables the user to capture stories of personal significance before they give up their possession. After processing about five items, it’s likely the person will start to realize that these things aren’t as important as they thought they were. As people are forced to come up with a story about each item, they in turn are more thoughtful about every item they buy. The process personalizes things so that one thinks twice about disposing of it in a thoughtless or harmful way.




They can also trade it on the Obit platform. Obit members are unable to purchase through the platform themselves until they have let go of several of their own possessions. The value is created by assisting people to make alternate disposal decisions about their objects by keeping their stories alive for the world to cherish. So, who needs Obit? Lots of people. Take a look around your home. If it is full of items you think you love but never actually touch, you need Obit. If you’re frustrated with the amount of stuff you have bought and accumulated over time, but you do not know where to begin, you need Obit. We aim to partner with popular shopping platforms so that the users are nudged to declutter with every purchase they make. Obit focuses on the pivotal moment when a decision is being made. It’s a mobile application that acts like an interactive flowchart. The user goes through an additional series of questions for each unique item that they are having a hard time making a decision about, and the application helps them arrive at an answer. This is designed to battle the internal dialogue that goes on inside our minds as we contemplate consumption. The goal is to create positive behavior around your acquisition of things by being more contemplative rather than making mindless decisions.




Once discarded, Obit photographs/ captures each item and places it into a database with your description of that item and significance associated with it. The item is then placed online where others can trade something for it. We make money by charging you a small percentage of any transactions made through the listing. We’ll get our first customers by recruiting family and friends as well as offering the service as a free trial to several targeted users. By helping people uncover their true wants and needs we can help them live a simpler life and become more mindful consumers.






DOT&DASH - Modular Furniture from Found Objects INSIDE/OUT BAG - Reversible Shopping Bag HERO - A Smart Kitchen Appliance




We all are victims to INERTIA. It is our biggest evil. I believe we all want to do good but there are certain constraints in the products/the system which does not allow us to follow through on our best intentions. Manipulating the meaning and the use of objects creates interesting behavior changes. As we dispose more and more products, there are increasing chances to reuse them, change the way they function and add new meaning to them. As we become more and more cognizant to the externalized and non-financial costs of the products we buy, we can assess value through a new framework. Through this framework, it is easier for consumers to feel pleasurable about their purchase patterns and not feel guilty about their choices and actions. Design can help make these informed choices easy to follow through on. Initial explorations for Speculative Objects led me to think a lot about new materials, manufacturing models and recycling that both reduce the cost of the product as well as lessen the environmental impact. A few contemplations also went around thinking how different ways of packaging and collaborating with brands can help strategize a different way of buying and selling consumer products. There can be various ways to incentivize people and make them feel more satisfied with the choices that they make. Like many, I have a love and hate relationship with furniture giants like IKEA . Though I love their clean Scandinavian design philosophy and the fact that they are making good design accessible to everyone, t. The fact that it is considered throwaway by most customers is really sad. They do have sustainable initiatives to make their factories stores and manufacturing processes- greener by switching to sustainable LED lighting solutions. Taking on these efforts are laudable, especially given their size; even small incremental improvements can bring about a big change. They also do advertising campaigns to using the exact logic to promote themselves as an environmentally responsible company. But one could argue these are just green washing campaigns.


What IKEA does not address in any of these promotions is the big pink elephant in the room - that their cheaply made products break and end up in landfill a short while later. Their furniture is synonymous with disposable. There are furniture companies, such as Room, and Board and De La Espada, that make durable products, but their price points are significantly higher and they serve a niche, affluent market. Could IKEA be motivated to make their furniture long lasting? Doing this will likely increase their cost of Manufacturing. Will this leave a deleterious effect on the democratizing affordability of the products that is so appealing and commendable? Is it possible to make long-lasting, engaging furniture at a low price? Why is that? I started thinking about what makes a piece of furniture obsolete just after a few years. Is it the fact that it is not engaging and fresh anymore? Does it not suit their living environment? Did the taste of the customer change? Is it not suiting their needs anymore? This led me to think more about transformative furniture pieces that evolve according to their needs. Pieces that are constantly changeable so that they so that they are refreshing every time you use them.


As a part of speculative design objects, I came up with a framework and a business model where the company upcycles found pieces of furniture to give a new meaning and purpose. We often dispose off furniture which can be easily salvaged and refined to put together a completely new product. As a regenerative system, the circular economy can have many positive consequences that enhance quality of life, community, and environment. Creating value for every player in your wider ecosystem will help that system thrive in the long term. Nurturing the people (think users, employees or partners) and natural systems that directly draw from or support your organization can be a source of growth, creativity, and innovation. For example, creating a local production network provides economic support to your surrounding area, which could in turn give the community the wealth and ability to buy your product or service.



At its core, a circular economy means that products no longer have a lifecycle with a beginning, middle and end, and therefore contribute less waste and can actually add value to their ecosystem. When materials stop being used, they go back into a useful cycle, hence the circular economy. Imagine what would happen if everything was designed to be restored and regenerative? I assume, in the near future we would no longer be creating new products but will most likely be recycling used products. In the ideal world humans have heeded the warnings about the environmental consequences of our consumption and have taken to smart alternatives.


This business focuses around collecting materials and products that can be converted into a modular piece. An ideal kit consists of a base which is refined and transformed into a perforated surface onto which different elements can be fixed. It is an extremely innovative and thoughtful process. Because one cannot guarantee that all the found objects could be of the same properties, every kit is a unique piece in itself. The kit is a collection of the base and few pre-requisite elements to complete a piece of furniture. The customer can choose to personalize and customize the kit by buying other elements for a few dollars.





This is an intentional effort to make sure that the product goes through the customer's personalization and creativity. This ensures constant engagement with the product and continuous purpose-serving. It can be anything that you want. It can be a reading chair, a work station, a bookshelf, a collaborative working space, etc. The uniqueness of this design is the fact that it will remain one of a kind and the customers can celebrate their identity and creativeness through the products that they own. It is as pleasurable as building a LEGO set. Meaning, it is easy to assemble and disassemble. This feature combined with the lightweight materials further reduces its shipping carbon footprint by integrating different materials thoughtfully with wood. S, sustainable, affordable, durable and engaging products of high design are possible. All the elements are removable to allow convenient, flat-pack shipping.






In Brooklyn, New York, where space is precious, it’s not surprising that many of the borough’s residents are starting to complain, loudly, about the countless used-clothing donation bins gobbling up sidewalks and serving as a magnet for garbage and graffiti. Aghast, Brooklyn Magazine commanded its readers not to use “those piece-of-crap bins.” The proliferating bins are owned by Viltex, a Newark-based, for-profit textile recycling company—one that’s violating a city ordinance by blocking the sidewalks. Even more rankling, the pastel-colored bins are operating under the guise of charity, their sides often stamped with magnanimous slogans. Americans now buy five times as much clothing as they did in 1980. But lost in all this commotion is the extent of America’s textile-waste problem, and Viltex is just one of a number of charities and for-profit groups vying for a sliver of the nation’s highly valuable tossed-out clothing. In New York City, clothing and textiles account for more than six percent of all garbage, which translates to 193,000 tons tossed annually. (These numbers mirror national averages: Americans recycle or donate only 15 percent of their used clothing, and the rest—about 10.5 million tons a year—goes into landfills, giving textiles one of the poorest recycling rates of any reusable material.) What does it mean for textiles to get recycled? While almost half of donated clothing gets worn again, a large portion of it is recycled in the traditional sense—ground down and re-formed


into things like insulation and carpet padding—and a slightly smaller portion is turned into industrial rags. Figuring out the proper way to dispose of old clothes can be perplexing; if these bins were to be taken off the sidewalks, few people would know where to put their used clothing. On top of that, Americans still think of old clothes as charitable donations, which explains the outrage over news that the Viltex bins actually belong to a for-profit company. Those in the textile-recycling industry are now trying to clear up the confusion. “What we need to do is change the dialogue to, ‘You’re not just donating, you’re reusing and recycling,’” says Jackie King, executive director of the Secondhand Materials and Recycled Textiles Association, a trade group. “It’s an issue of communicating that and getting people to understand that if they want to use a charitable organization to reuse or recycle clothing, great. If not, let’s make it convenient for people to dispose of it elsewhere.” Most recycling, from bottles to cans to newspapers, is done by for-profit companies. In a nation that churns out an ungodly amount of waste, this amounts to big business. Take plastic: The U.S. exported more than $940 million worth of plastic scrap in 2010. The value of used clothing, moreover, has been in its own inflationary bubble since the recession, as more people are cash-strapped and opting to buy used. Most of our used clothing ends up in

the hands of for-profit textile recyclers anyway. Of course, castoff clothing differs from a bottle or a newspaper in that almost half of it can be reused as secondhand clothing; it needn’t be ground down into a pulp to make a new product, as is the case with plastic or glass. But the other half—the ripped, the torn, the busted—is recyclable. Charities have been our de facto national textile recyclers going back to the early 20th century, and Goodwill started providing bins for clothing donations as early as the 1940s. But this system was set up in a pre-consumerist America, when we had neither a landfill crunch nor a waste crisis: Americans now buy five times as much clothing as they did in 1980, according to Mattias Wallander, CEO of USAgain, a textile-

recycling company. And between 1999 and 2009, the volume of textile trash rose by 40 percent. Particularly due to the advent of cheap, disposable clothing, charities have seen themselves transformed into dumps that accept clothes of varying condition in everincreasing volumes. King says there is quite a lot of public misinformation about what exactly happens to clothing when it’s donated to charities. “People think when they are giving to, say, a Salvation Army or Goodwill, that all of that is going to be resold in their stores, and it’s just not, because they don’t have enough room for that,” she says. In fact, according to King, there’s only a 15 or 20 percent chance that a piece of clothing you’ve donated is being worn by someone in your community, as charities receive


far too many donations to sell them all. Instead, charities such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army sell only what they can in their retail shops—typically less than 20 percent of what they receive. From there, they call for-profit textile recycling companies, like Viltex, who then buy up the leftover clothes by the pound and recycle them. If most of our used clothing ends up in the hands of for-profit textile recyclers anyway, how do we get the public more comfortable with the idea of donating to them to begin with? One way is to convince municipalities such as New York City to take textile recycling more seriously, and to make used-clothing drop-off and recycling options more widespread. Kathryn Garcia, who took office as New York City’s sanitation commissioner in April,* says her staff is focusing on greatly expanding New York’s re-fashioNYC program, which places textile recycling bins in apartment buildings with more than 10 units and collects clothing on the weekends at several markets. Other cities have taken a far more assertive approach, collecting textiles curbside with other recyclables. Queen Creek, Arizona, collects towels, clothing, blankets, sheets and shoes in special waterproof bags. Other cities have designed new fleets of garbage trucks with separate compartments for clothes. New York City has no such plans for curbside textile recycling, Garcia says; a curbside program would require creating a new route for just six percent of the waste stream, and on


top of that, textiles can’t be left out in the rain like bottles can. Companies and other organizations have attempted their own solutions, too. Packmee, a program in Germany and the Netherlands, allows citizens to ship their old clothes for free to textile recyclers. Meanwhile, in the UK and Canada, schools have become the central place for textile collection, making it easy for parents to drop off

last season’s has-beens along with their kids. In the U.S., retailers including Patagonia, H&M, The North Face, and Eileen Fisher have implemented in-store recycling and take-back programs. This patchwork approach might be the solution to capturing more of America’s unwanted clothes, for now.

of last year’s faux-leather leggings and crop tops, it’s enticing to just throw old clothes away. Or to just plunk them into your local mystery clothing bin that says it’s charitable, when it’s not. After some decades of recycling, though, one thing we’ve learned is that people won’t do it if it isn’t convenient.

In a place like New York City, where depositing clothing might mean getting on the subway with a heavy bag






The Inside/Out Bag is an effort to stop talking about recycling and donation and start doing it. Different retail and online brands can provide the customer this bag when they purchase anything. The user can then just pull it inside out and donate something, instead of discarding it. It is a hassle free experience as the bag has a free shipping return label printed on it.










The user could also track it and receive updates on where and how their donations are making an impact. By doing this, you extend the life cycle of the product and also help someone in need.





As consumers are getting more and more environmentally conscious, it is our role as designers to directly connect the manufacturer with the consumer, to create ongoing material flows. A few years ago, office chair manufacturer Orangebox started offering to remove any old chairs before they delivered their new ones. Their aim was to offer a better service to their customers, but the move had a big knock-on effect. They started disassembling the chairs to try to recover and sell the materials. They quickly realized it was taking an employee forty-five minutes to take the chair apart, and their labor cost was wiping out the value of the materials they were recovering. This changed their design priorities for their next chair; the Ara chair could be pulled apart by hand, materials were standardized, and the next life of the product had already been planned. These were simple design changes that made the material easy to recover and maintained quality, but I realized the most crucial part wasn’t the design details but getting the product back to the manufacturer. These design changes would have made no difference in the collective model of waste recycling but because Orangebox took their own products back, they had the motivation to make sure they could recover the material value as quickly and cleanly as possible. The only way to achieve high quality material recycling was for the manufacturer to take back their own products, but there was no way to easily achieve this with existing products. Since the manufacturer had a direct link to their own products, they could shift their design motivations. They now needed a fast and economical way to disassemble and refurbish their product so it could be ready for use again.




This naturally leads to a very clear set of design requirements: simple construction, reusable modular parts, and standardized materials. These are some of the current trends when it comes to buying kitchen appliances. Through my research, I discovered that blenders, hot pots, and coffee makers each have their own plastic housings and power supplies, but at their core they either heat a vessel or rotate it. 182



The solution I envisioned was to build a modular kitchen appliance, where individual attachments join together to function in different configurations. This is how it works: By combining a single motor and a high-efficiency induction heating coil with a selection of purpose-built containers, Hero is able to replace redundant gadgets that crowd tiny kitchens. Fewer appliances plugged into the wall means less energy lost to phantom load, and a single device reduces the amount of raw materials that are wasted. To make it simple and elegant, RFID chips are embedded in the various attachments that sit on the base unit. When a blender is placed on the base, an OLED display comes to life and shows only blender controls. Replace it with a hotpot and heat controls appear.




Since I would be introducing users to a new experience, I wouldn’t want to overload them with unfamiliar aesthetics. The key is to make it approachable and familiar. The black and polished metal base station is meant to mirror contemporary kitchen decor. The form is simple and it is inspired by an hourglass that swings along an axis to help you change attachments without requiring you to take it off the base. The Hero kitchen appliance demonstrates product longevity and energy efficiency, and easy recyclability, empowering consumers to take an active role in prolonging the life of products. It is designed with “part-share modularity” that expands its functionality and minimizes clutter. Hero has obvious limitation—for instance, you can’t prepare your coffee and smoothie simultaneously. However, this is designed with dorm rooms


and micro-apartments with kitchens the size of closets in mind. This design also had economic advantages for the user. When an element eventually fails, the broken slot can be unclipped from the appliance, leaving the remaining attachments still working. The consumer still has a working blender/kettle while the broken attachment is returned to the manufacturer and a replacement sent out. This modular approach also allowed us to make the individual attachments thin enough to fit through a letterbox, making the return process as easy as possible for the consumer. These appliances should never end up in the trash.





GRYD - Shelves around the Objects You Love URGE - Find Great Alternatives





It’s a “chicken or the egg” kind of dilemma when you are comparing mass manufacturing and parametric design. One could even say that the two are essentially the same. A very natural consequence to parametric design is that it lets the end user engage in the design process. You write the code and set boundaries for the user to create within, and therefore determine the amount of freedom that the user has. Deciding how much freedom to grant them is crucial, and there’s a very thin line between too little and too much choice. It is, in fact, the most difficult question: How should we design a customization interface to avoid the paradox of choice? The paradox has two extremes—the choice can either be very limited and unattractive for the user, or there can be too much of it, which in turn is paralyzing. For products, the key benefit of parametric design is that you can let the user into the design process, and the piece that comes out of it will be better suited for their requirements, both aesthetically and in a purely utilitarian way, than anything they could get in traditional retail. It is conventional to buy furniture to store your products but it is more exciting to own a piece of furniture that is specially designed around the things that you possess. Why do you have to settle for a standard IKEA shelf and then buy objects to populate it? Everyone already possesses so many objects that they can display and celebrate.



Gryd is an app that lets you design furniture around your living spaces and the objects that possess. It makes use of AR scanning to scan the exact dimensions of your object and lets you edit the same. The app uses parametric design technology to help you build customized furniture. When you celebrate the objects that you have, it creates a greater sense of appreciation. Once you scan your objects you can store it in your personal collection and keep adding nw objects to the collection. Next you can choose to build either a desk hack, a shelf or any other kind of customized furniture that you need for your work/living space.





For example, You are building a customized shelf ,You can drag and drop the selected objects into an empty canvas where you can see live dimensions of the objects and also scan your space. You can also explore different arrangements and see suggestions according to the objects you’ve selected. In the build mode the app lets you add empty sections to your shelf so that you can keep other objects around it. In the customized mode it lets you select different materials, colored back panels, transparency and lighting. Together a section of a shelf frames the object that you have and makes it look like a piece of art. Before you place the order, you can view a realistic render of the shelf and through virtual view you can preview how it looks in your living space. You can also go back and edit some features before you check out. Once you order the product it is delivered to your doorstep and it’s easy to assemble instructions and also gives you the joy of building it yourself.


It’s a constant feedback loop between four fields. First, there’s obviously the design and the constraints of the manufacturing process, available materials and so on. Then, parametric design kicks in and you are looking at how the piece changes in 3D. Lastly, there’s the interface that has to make the decision what the user will be able to change in the piece. During the development process the interface simultaneously looks at two sorts of prototypes: a tangible one and an in-app one, and see how the user will interact with the piece from the very beginning and manipulate as they build it further.








There are 304 million active online shoppers across the world. Each of them have different shopping preferences and motivations that are currently being met by the filters and search options in all the popular shopping platforms. A recent Neilson study suggests that the trend of pursuing value and purpose-led purchasing is greater among consumers in emerging economies who feel better when their purchases cater to their desire to fulfill their socio-environmental responsibility. But the act of searching for products with less of an environmental impact can be strenuous. Users are left with the daunting task of digging in vain for hours through a list of suggested search results.


Inital Explorations The project started with mapping out proto-personas to understand our target audience and get a deeper understanding of their values, needs and motivations. Scenario mapping for the proto-personas helped to understand various touch points where the user might need the service that URGE is providing. Proceeding from there, initial wireframes were designed to understand the user flow and features of the app. Experiments with color, typography and layouts helped creating a design language and feel.






Urge works as a chrome extension that provides you alternatives based on the values that you care about the most. It eliminates the effort to research through different brands. The best part of this service is that it makes the seller adhere to your preferences so that your searches are more customized. By bringing socio-environmental incentives upfront and providing shoppers with alternatives that reflect their ever-changing motivations and needs, the consumers become active participants in making choices for the greater good.



There are two sides to it: the Seller side and the Consumer side. When the seller uploads product information on the platform, Urge is able to make value judgments about the product by comparing product standards across categories. This brings seller transparency upfront.


Now when the shopper searches for alternatives through the chrome extension, they are able to view top results of products that fulfill their preferences and values. They are also able to read reviews and learn which products fit their values, ultimately helping them choose the best sustainable option and making them feel good about their shopping experience.



Urge is one platform that goes above and beyond the conventional incentive of saving money. Rather than using traditional search filters, users have the ability to consider if a product is recyclable, has a buy back service, is space saving and energy efficient, and if it is long lasting. They can also compare the quality of similar products. This process enables both the seller and the customer to be more socially and environmentally responsible.






There are many areas of opportunity to expand the work, but most compelling is the Bag or Dot&Dash as it offers a valueengineered solution. The diligence will need to be performed around the viability of manufacturing. This product at volume, cost effectively and sustainably. For the cost-related factors, the investigation process would entail the traditional product sourcing, pricing, and logistic exploration. This would include identifying local fabricators for each of the components and determining cost for assembly and shipping. To further test the feasibility of the product, the MVP approach in the Lean Startup method will be applied. By attempting to reverse our addiction to disposability, people will have a more considered and thoughtful relationships 223


with their objects, especially large scale items that once were treated as heirloom such as furniture. As urged by design thinker, Cameron Tonkinwise, the work here aims to replace hyper consumption with collaborative and innovative consumption. And I look forward to continuing to leverage this power, as a designer, to script beter behaviors around consumption and waste.


REFERENCES Dunne & Raby, “Havas Prosumer Report: The New Consumer and The Sharing Economy.”, next_economy/havas_prosumer_report_new_consumer_sharing_economy. HavasWWSpain Follow. “Project: Superbrand.” LinkedIn SlideShare, 27 July 2016, HavasWWSpain Follow. “Project: Superbrand.” LinkedIn SlideShare, 27 July 2016, 7. Hoang, Limei. “The 10 Commandments of New Consumerism.” The Business of Fashion, 29 Sept. 2016, articles/intelligence/the-10-commandments-of-new-consumerism Canigueral, Albert. “Prosumer HAVAS Media 2014.” LinkedIn SlideShare, “Join 84120 Innovators.” What’s Mine Is Yours: The Sharing Economy, herox. com/crowdsourcing-news/142-whats-mine-is-yours-the-sharing-economy “Mindful Shopping.” Sustainability In Style, 15 May 2017, Jugaad-Innovation-excerpt-final.pdf wp/Prosumer_VS2_POV_0404_FINAL.pdf “Alternative Consumption and Non-Shopping Trends on the Rise.” International Trade: For or Against? | Worldwatch Institute Europe, 226

“Natural Capitalism.” Ellen MacArthur Foundation, “What Does Sustainability Mean to You?” USAPP, 10 July 2013, blogs. “Green Generation: Millennials Say Sustainability Is a Shopping Priority.” What People Watch, Listen To and Buy, green-generation-millennials-say-sustainability-is-a-shopping-priority.html. Keating, Kevin. “5 Reasons Why Visible Sustainability Matters to Millennial Consumers.” Novelty Packaging That Wins: Consumer Participation in Packaging Design, Kho, Jennifer. “Open Thread: What Does ‘Sustainable’ Mean to You?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 3 Feb. 2014, sustainable-business/sustainable-green-meaning-consumer-open-thread. “Convenience vs. Sustainability: Are We Seeing a Shift in Priorities?” Shelton Group :: Experts in Sustainability and Energy Marketing, sheltongrp. com/posts/convenience-vs-sustainability-good-news-from-knoxville/. “Report Shows a Third of Consumers Prefer Sustainable Brands.” Unilever Global Company Website, report-shows-a-third-of-consumers-prefer-sustainable-brands.html. “On Parametric Design - Interview with Michał Piasecki.” Tylko Journal, 8 Jan. 2017, Tudball, Libby. “Our Kids Need to Learn about Climate Change.” The Conversation, The Conversation, 7 May 2018, theconversation. com/our-kids-need-to-learn-about-climate-change-33833. Cline, Elizabeth. “Where Does Discarded Clothing Go?” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 18 July 2014, archive/2014/07/where-does-discarded-clothing-go/374613/. 30. mpaign=PS_H&MLadiesConscious&bucketed=true&bucketi TAIT CLUB, 32. madeleine-elizabeth, /. “Will You Be My Audience? (All 10,000 of You).” Madeleine Elizabeth Paton, 20 May 2016, maddypaton.wordpress. com/2016/05/13/will-you-be-my-audience-all-10000-of-you/. 227

LEXICON Adaptability: The nature of a product or a system to adapt to multiple needs and contexts.

Resilience: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. Disposability: Varies with different products, its materials, and its recyclability Built-in Obsolescence: Strategic and Intentional obsolescence embedded into a product or system

Longevity: An ability of something to last long (varies with different products) Recyclability: The ability of a product to be able to get recycled to its full potential.

Embedded Recyclability: Recyclability designed into a product or a system Value Oriented Consumer: Consumers who are committed to certain valuebased shopping. It can be anything from being an environmentally conscious consumer to a person who only values convenience, time and money. Mass Manufacture: It is the production of large amounts of standardized products, including and especially on assembly lines.

Accessibility: is to have as much access to mindfully designed products as other products

Net Positive: Design process and outcomes that create an overall benefit for the environment as well as the user. Behavior Shift: Enabling consumers’ to follow through on their intentions and convert them into actions.

Eco-design as a function: Dictates how products and systems can be more sustainable in their functionality and usability rather than just by the use of materials and production processes Circular economy / Cradle to cradle: Circulating materials flow of a product back into the system of remanufacturing it and giving it a new form, instead of procurement of raw materials to create new products. 228

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Special Thanks to: My Parents Deval Mistry Pranay Mahajan Allan Chochinov, Chair, POD My SVA POD Family




Prosumerism crafting alternate consumption experiences  

Prosumerism encapsulates a year’s worth of research. It illustrates my design offering and process. While it is not a scholarly dissertation...

Prosumerism crafting alternate consumption experiences  

Prosumerism encapsulates a year’s worth of research. It illustrates my design offering and process. While it is not a scholarly dissertation...