In my first post I am going to report on the kick-off event. But before I begin with that, let me tell you about the awesome place the event took place at.
Fabcity is a temporary and freely accessible living research village at the head of Amsterdam’s Java Island, in the context of EU2016 Netherlands presidency of the European Union. The presented projects are all about designing a self-sufficient, sustainable city and providing solutions to global problems such as waste, water shortage, energy and food supply, transportation, etc. “Up and Until 26 June, almost fifty pavilions, installations and prototypes are buzzing with research, experiments, workshops, exhibitions, exchange of knowledge, creativity and fun, showcasing and designing the future of everyday living.”
As I arrived a bit earlier to the meeting, I had time to go for a quick round in the campus and e.g. try a delicious humus sandwich which produced locally and organically.
Back to the kick-off event.
The first lecture ‘Lessons learned Circular Design Cases’ by Pieter van Os concluded the most important and for us, new participants, the most interesting details from last year’s design challenge. He presented several concepts with mind-opening questions the former participants faced such as
Should I intervene in a product or a system level?
Should I design for present or design for faraway future?
Should my design be modular, changeable and adaptable?
What’s the danger of being too familiar with a product?
Besides those questions, he talked about the value in a product. The difference between economic and material value was explained through clear examples. He also mentioned the possible reasons of a product stopped being used. Or why a product end up being waste. He pointed out the importance and necessity of defining clearly a design goal and keeping reflecting to it in all design phases.
Ruud Balkenende gave the second lecture about ’Closing the loop’ or if I would call it introduction to recycling. He showed on a concrete example the effect of constructional design decisions in recycling. He emphasized that beyond being aware of recycling we should know the process of it and design for it. I noted valuable quotes like:
‘Think about re-connecting not just connecting elements!’
‘Collaboration is essential with suppliers and users’
‘We can recycle elements, not materials’
The tear down session was basically an autopsy of a product. Bas Flipsen from ifixit led us directly to the practical side of re-assembling products. The motto of ifixit is ‘Repair is better than recycling’. A huge amount of money, energy and other resources can be saved if we design for disassembly and for repair.
So during the miniworkshop Conrado, Pieter and I disassembled a haircutter. Something similar to this:
It turned out, that our product was more interesting in the inside as it seemed from the outside. Under the cheap injection molded surface it had no PCB, no ‘smart’ elements, just a clipping motor. We were almost touched by this beauty of simplicity. In our pitch we highlighted this beauty by detailing the ease of disassembly:
- type of activity : we used only one screwdriver to loosen all the bondings; besides that we had a few snap fit and that’s it
- accessibility: the product had unmistakable usecues regarding the assembly, so we knew exactly how and where to reach with our tools
- forces & movements: manual disassembly was easy and effortless
- activity time: for someone with routine could have been done in a minute
This product was a great example of design for reparation, because it allowed disassembling without damage to a certain level, but the potentially damageable and therefore changeable parts were rigid and almost impossible to take apart.
My final conclusion of the day was, that circular economy is about thinking in system and being able to step back and contemplate the big picture while never forgetting about the ‘final state’ and the reversal of the elements of the products.
At the end of the event we received a copy of the ‘Products that last’. My plan for the next couple of days is to read the book and make a schedule for the upcoming 4 months.