8. Building Attachments with the Old and the New

We started the week off with the Design Slam, with each learning community having the task to come up with sustainable design concepts related to their given topic. For our group, it revolved around establishing a business to make new clothing by upcycling old garments no longer being used.

We have a problem that with our clothing often being made cheaper, the quality is lower and the clothes tend to wear out quicker. And individual would get some small holes in  their clothes and at that point think that`s the end and throw it in the trash, thus contributing to the problem of these masses of old clothes filling landfills, which is what we wanted to challenge by recycling old garments in our design.

To effectively involve the area, we planned to develop  partnerships with local brands and OSU, by not only offering places for people to dump their old clothing for our business to use, but also instilling the help of the design program at the school in helping create these new garments. This would give students with fresh, innovative ideas a chance to explore those while providing them experience for their futures.  When the design process was complete, the new items could be either sold in a small store (as we would be a fairly new business), or sold online as that offers a larger audience reach for a small cost.

Afterwards, Annamaria Mariani spoke about how important recycling is to her and the effect it has on her life. I know quite a few people that do recycle but it`s rather passively, so it was really inspiring to see someone who deems it such an important thing in her life and how it affects her purchase decisions and ways of living every day.

The following class revolved around using the GERT bodysuits to simulate the effects of old age on the body and how it restricts the movements and senses of seniors. When put on, the suit impairs vision, hearing, mobility, joint movement, strength, grip, and coordination in the ways that these are often found to affect older individuals. While the user didn’t specifically say anything about it, I noticed that the bodysuit seemed to cause her to have slightly less balance when walking. Beyond that, she also couldn`t hear unless we spoke loudly, but the vision was consistently said to be the worst part. We went outside to see the children and despite standing next to two kids, she didn`t actually see them until she really looked around to find them, and when trying to read a  sign, she had to literally walk right up in front of it to see it. And of course, in typical old person fashion, while going up the stairs to return to the lab, the slower movement was holding some people up behind them (which we moved out the way to let them through). While the GERT suit seemed to be okay to deal with for the short period of time, having to deal with those pressures every day like an actual older individual would take a toll on the body and really wear it down.

The glasses with different vision imparities really struck me the most. Vision is a huge thing to me and I honestly can`t imagine myself being able to function or want to live with going completely blind. It`s frightening though because my father has developed vision problems in both eyes- in one eye he only has central vision, and in the other eye it is the opposite and he only has peripheral vision. Despite going to many specialists over the years, they still don`t know exactly what caused these to occur as both times he just woke up and it was like that, and as far as I know it hasn`t continued to degenerate any worse. He has to enhance computer screens to huge sizes in order to read them and probably shouldn`t even be driving. Being able to see is such a necessary thing to carry out daily tasks in life, so I`m very wary of the possibility of something like that happening and I don`t want to take my vision for granted.

Finally was the reading “I Love this Dress, It Makes Me Feel Beautiful!” which revolved about the ways our clothing has an empathic attachment to us and our identities. It is less about being necessary for covering up or protecting from weather conditions- now a lot of how we express ourselves is based on our clothing choices. For some people, clothing provides an opportunity to express their inner self through it. For others, it can be used to define their sexuality or social identities

I liked the explanation of how even if a product is able to fully fulfill the needs of a consumer, it doesn`t mean there will be an emotional attachment. However, if we do develop an attachment to the item, we tend to keep it for a long-term use. This idea of holding on to things that are considered important to us along with the activity of taking pictures of our oldest and most sentimental items made me think about myself and what impact these items have in relation to how our current generation responds to them. I think part of the reason of having a hard time disposing of sentimental items that no longer serve purpose to us can correspond to worsening memory in generations. I know for myself my memory is terrible and without holding on to a keepsake, I would probably end up forgetting it ever existed and forget about that kind gesture. With the ability to contact the entire world now through internet, media, etc. we suffer not only from and overload of exposure to the rest of the world, but also less initiative to remember things on our own anymore. When we have a question, we can just Google the answer now, showing our dependability of the internet for our thoughts rather than remembering it ourselves. Just like how the internet is available to serve our curiosity, we depend on the sentimental items we hold on to as symbolism of something or someone important in our life that we may forget about without that constant reminder.

The ability of co-designing mentioned in the reading could possibly play an important role in helping build longer lasting bonds between consumers and their items. I think being part of the design process and doing it yourself gives you some pride of your own self creation and makes you less willing to throw it out later. It`s unique and you won`t be able to replace it with a duplicate. When we work with the senior individuals for our upcoming project, this concept of co-designing could be a key factor in a functional design. For example, if they need something to help them walk or travel, you may think to provide them a wheelchair. But what if that individual has poor circulation and can`t sit for long periods of time? Although that wheelchair may technically work for getting from point A to point B, it doesn`t completely suit their needs. Just because we know the main problem, doesn`t mean we know all of the small details of that individual`s life as well, which is where including them in the creation process can be critical to building an effective bond and maximizing the full potential of a product with its consumer.

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