Design, recession and Smart Consumption ~ Abaster

11 December 2008

Design, recession and Smart Consumption

On the Industrial Design group list in LinkedIn, the following question was asked "What products are people willing to buy in a crashing global economy?" The question prompted me to think about product design more generally. Given that we are in times characterized not only by credit scarcity but also resource scarcity, perhaps the issue is not so much what products will people buy in hard times, but rather what products should people expect and demand in times defined by scarcity? My answer to the above on the list was a little glib, but its applicability is more general:

Products that don't have sell-by dates, products that eschew built-in obsolescence, products that eschew built-in waste, products that are elegant (simple and precise, built for purpose), products that last beyond the first firmware update, products that are not disposable....

If we are in heading into new times, times characterized by moving from want to need as Bruce Nussbaum suggests, then as consumers we should demand and expect more of product manufacturers and service providers. Change can be mandated, but real sustaining change will have to be driven by empowered and savvy consumers and communities, embracing "Smart Consumption", that which encourages greater product and service effectiveness, efficiency (in terms of resource utilization, etc.) and longevity.