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Again and again: triple perspective on design and repair

Özkan, Nazlı; Wever, Renee

The world is dominated by the unsustainable model of the linear economy. Our society, the education system even sustainability education is based on take-make-dispose practices. A paradigm shift is required in education to overcome the impacts of almost a century of domination and transition to a circular model. This paper presents a graduate product design course that focuses on closed-loop systems and ways of regenerating value through repairing rather than making something new. Actual Repair is a graduate course, within a trans-disciplinary international MSc program, with a unique triple task approach. For the first task students were expected to find a (set of) broken/damaged product(s), and visibly repair it/them in an aesthetically pleasing way. Then, they organised a Repair Café as a group for the second task. Finally, the third task required designing a system or the touchpoints of a system in which products are repaired. This triple task process resulted in a multifaceted learning experience. At several points during the course, reflective sessions were held to help students articulate the higher-level learnings from their separate projects. Resulting from this research, learning perspectives including circular thinking perspective, seeing the repair possibilities, the stigma of repair, interest in the circular economy, understanding limited resources, exploring community value and exploring alternative user perspectives were presented. This paper contributes to the existing literature by providing a case of incorporating repair into product design education, and by exploring how doing so through three different perspectives triggers deeper learning than a single perspective would have.
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