This week, our readings focused on empathic design in textiles, empathic design strategies, and design probes. I did not have any personal epiphanies this week. While the Niinimaki reading focused specifically on empathic design in textiles, it reiterated a lot of things we have already heard about empathic design. I did enjoy the article though. Niinimaki really discussed ways to put empathic design into practice by understanding what the designer has control over in the design process. I agree with his point that good design and functionality really do come first.
There is only so much that a designer can do to create a product that won’t be discarded prematurely. Emotional connection, as the article studies, is really a driving force in textile longevity. Yet, emotional connection is based on personal experience and designers can’t control or predict that with absolute certainty. One example that comes to mind is wedding dresses. While, one might assume a wedding dress will be kept and cherished and possible past on, it is not always the case. Most wedding dresses are given a good life though reconstruction, becoming a helium, or even being resold. However, there is a new trend called “trash the dress”, where brides do something to destroy the dress after the wedding because they figure they will never wear it or need it again. They see the garment, once hunted for like a deer in the woods, as obsolete once the event is over. By trashing the dress, they make the fabric unusable for any other purpose as well.
I’m not sure why this is fun to people. I can’t see spending so much money on a piece of clothing only to destroy it right away. If the dress wasn’t important enough to hang onto when you bought it, why spend so much on it. In fact, it would make much more sense to buy a simple white dress that could be turned into a ‘little black dress’ that will be more functional. I guess it’s a social mindset to think, “It’s not important, so it’s trash” instead of seeing trash as the last resort and trying to think of another avenue.
In class, we discussed the issues with donating clothes. I never thought of this as a problem before. I can’t imagine throwing out anything clothing if it is even mildly usable. I didn’t grow up thinking with that kind of luxury. We use things until they fall apart or don’t fit in my family. I do however donate a lot of clothes, but never buy second hand. I am feeding the problem when I thought I was helping. We all really do have to have everything new. It’s a very hard thing to break free from. I try to imagine myself not buying new and it’s a hard thing to do. I like new things. But, do I need new things?
As I look around my room, I know I do not need knew things. In fact, I have too much clutter as it is. Now I am feeling really unsure of how to dispose of the items I don’t use enough.
(That’s my thinking face)
There are many parts to the consumption cycle which need to be changed at a deeper level. People get stuck on one idea, one area to change, and tend to ignore the larger picture. Disposal is a significant area to focus on while changes at the front end of the cycle develop as well.
I would love to know what changes are being made. What companies are offering ways to recycle their products or are trying to make a difference? I am curious as to why these are not more widely known or talked about (although I can guess at that one). How do we, as soon to be graduating seniors, spark people, spark change?