While learning about empathic design, we were able to share our oldest and most treasured items with the class. For me, it was my great-grandfather’s wooden nickel. When I was young, I had a very close relationship with my great grandpa, or Papaw, as we called him. He taught me a lot of things about life, whether intentionally or not. And every time we went over to his house I would always make a beeline for the wooden nickel hanging on his wall. I’m not sure why, but I was fascinated by it. My Papaw knew this, and so when he passed away he left it to me. For years after, I would carry it around with me nonstop. I think it was a combination of wanting to feel him close to me and believing that it would bring me good luck. Either way I carried it around every day, and wore it down in the process. Now it is a faded and glued together shell of what it used to be, but the sentiment is still the same. As I’m sure most people with family heirlooms would agree, it’s the story of the many generations behind it that matters.
I think that this kind of logic also applies to the things that we value in life and how we perceive that value. For me, sentimental value is monumentally more important that monetary value. We can apply this thought process to the way we design things with the end user in mind. If we focus on empathy centered design, I believe that we can create meaningful pieces that people will treasure for the rest of their lives. We can learn to become more sustainable this way because consumers will be less likely to throw things away or replace them when trends change if they have sentimental value. In the end, the things that you value are the ones that are most important to you, and by incorporating those items into your daily life you can live in a happier and more sustainable way.