Jump to navigation
Darinka Aguirre (author)
Emily Carr University of Art and Design Graduate Studies (Degree granting institution)
Design for repurposing: A sustainable design strategy for product life and beyond
SustainabilityProduct life cycleIndustrial DesignCommercial products
As a society we are running out of resources and the number of products discarded everyday is no longer sustainable. How can design facilitate a solution to this problem? Design for Repurposing, presents a new strategy for incorporating the concept of repurposing in product design, which aims to extend the longevity of products by intentionally designing features or details that facilitate repurposing. Repurposing is the transformation of products or their components to suit a second purpose after their first has expired. For example, an old truck’s wheel rim is transformed into a grill by welding iron legs onto it. I explored the concept of designing for repurposing by interviewing, photographing and observing how people in developing countries, such as Mexico, transform existing products into different objects for other uses. I translated these observations into a detailed artifact analysis with reflections on what makes certain objects attractive or suitable to those who repurpose them. Design for repurposing converts consumers into engaged users who invest time to transform and customize products, thus easing the amount of waste in landfills and saving energy, money and the environment. The new purposes assigned to products can be classified into three categories: planned, coached and open-ended. These categories share a common goal: to extend the longevity of an object’s use. Repurposing also happens at different scales, such as batch production, and individual level (Do it Yourself: DIY). My thesis contains descriptive information and two checklists for designers, manufacturers and engineers seeking another strategy for sustainable design.