Digital Future: Waste and design


(Image from Paulo)

Recently I have been to a event in the topic of digital futures hosted by V&A. There were several speakers from different backgrounds, such as design, creative industry and engineering. The event featured various thoughts and practices on waste and design. I was intrigued by the presentation of Paulo Goldstein, the designer who had an exhibition of “repair”. Here is the link if you are interested (want to check it out).

Paulo Goldstein

As you may see from his design, most of the objects he repaired was given a unique and new form compering to their original forms. The broken iPod was attached to a bone to get the function of a clip back. The dysfunctional chair was added a new part of strings and arms to get it stand alone. It was really amazing that the way he repaired things was not about bringing the absolute original status back but in a sense of creating something new in its form to have similar functionality.

I was thinking about the meaning of repair during the event. Nowadays, the technology companies are more likely to offer a repair and care service that includes less than minimal repair. For example, if you walk into an Apple store with a broken iPhone with an insurance, the genius bar will offer you a new iPhone instead of fixing your old one. The same example can be seen in many other cloud technology devices, such as Google Chromebook. The current idea is that the physical devices are no longer important or unique and the information and data can be transferred to new devices in a second. The power of manufacturing and technology seems to have changed the discouse of repairing. Things are much easier and cheaper to be replaced rather than repaired.

I asked him a question at the end of his presentation. ‘Was your intention of repairing is to bring back the original status of broken objects or the intention of recreating newness out of the brokens?’ He said his intentions was to bring back its original function and even more not to hide the work of repairing. It was to emphasis the repairing itself. As in his example given in the presentation, repairs to him have a sense of getting back the control over a broken system, the control over frustration and uncertainties. According to Paulo, this emotional and social sense of repairing was regarded very important in current financial crisis.


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