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Objects, things and stuff; exploring the awareness of materiality in longer everyday product relationships

Green, Clare R.

In designing for longer product lifetimes we should consider our relationships not only with “products” but with “things” and “stuff”. The role of materiality in longer relationships with everyday artefacts may not have attracted as much attention as other factors, despite environmental relevance. This paper investigates awareness of stuff in the sense of unimportant everyday artefacts and also stuff in the sense of the material make-up of these artefacts. We highlight findings related to material awareness as a component of longer everyday product relationships. The findings around the role of the materiality in longer product relations reveal an ambiguous picture. Firstly the awareness of the material aspects of the everyday products commented on is very unevenly distributed. Comments related to material qualities of objects as well as the material presence of objects as physical entities are missing from many personal narratives collected. At the same time, an awareness of material, in the sense of the actual physical presence and nature of an object appears important in many of the longer everyday relationships commented. Relations to materiality in the research can thus be grouped into two distinct sections, firstly how materiality is present and appears to positively contribute to longer product relations, and secondly how materiality may go unnoticed in relationships with everyday objects. Being conscious of stuff as material may not constitute the majority of current behaviour (and may not be easy to encourage) but may be increasingly important in the context of product longevity.
Published in: PLATE – Product lifetimes and the environment : 3rd PLATE Conference, September 18–20, 2019 Berlin, Germany, Universitätsverlag der TU Berlin
Published by ISBN 978-3-7983-3125-9