Ignoring Durable Design

How globalization led us to disposable-everything, and what to do.

Brent Biglow, Oct 17th 2018


 

Trading between continents has become more and more efficient since the 1970’s, with the advent of the shipping container. Benefits aside, this enabled the exploit of weak labour regulations in developing countries. As the price of consumer goods drops, it allows consumers to replace things more rapidly, and allows companies worldwide to blatantly ignore designing for the long term.

Why would a designer want to ignore the long term? Designers are everywhere, and a majority are designing the budget material, trend-afflicted products for big companies. Big companies who’s parent companies’ board of directors need to please shareholders with short term gains. It is the very definition of a systemic problem.

 

The consumer side of this, is the new ability to follow trends and styles as rapidly as you like. It’s easy enough to fully replace the furniture in your living room with the newest trend every 5 years, likely sending the last set to a landfill.

Here’s where we all come in. In my opinion, we need to live our lives, and fill them with experiences rather than things. When it comes time to add a thing to our life, we must consider what that means on a deeper level. We must make considerations that directly reduce our impact on the Earth.

  • We often replace things that don’t need replacing, and disregard the by-product of this; waste.

  • We opt to save money by choosing something that isn’t as well made. It’s a vicious circle, as part of that decision comes from knowing how easy it will be to replace the poorly-made item if need be.

  • We want the newest, coolest, trendiest things, and consider only the financial expense.

Consideration is everything. We must consider the cost of our decisions in a larger context than our own wallet’s short-term loss. We as an individual, as a family, as a society need to expand the scope of our considerations.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States reported in 2009 that 9.8 million tons of furniture waste was created annually. Clothing and textile waste is even higher at 15 million tons per year. These numbers are only going up.

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consideration is everything

Well designed products include endless consideration, your only decision to make is to purchase them.

 

We need to think about what we’re buying. Is it contributing to a widespread systemic problem? Our only weapon to combat these issues is our wallet. Spend your money on things that will last, and on things that you truly need. Choose styles that are enduring and beautiful through subtlety and nuance. It’s not just about physical durability, we must actively seek out aesthetic durability through timeless design.

Find stores, designers, manufacturers and friends that embrace these ideals.

Biglow Woodcraft embraces these ideals.

 

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