Note — Aug 29, 2021

Design for Obsolete Devices

Seen in → No.185

Source → buttondown.email/otherworlds/archive/ow-2-desig...

In this excerpt from her master thesis, Anaëlle Beignon considers the history of planned obsolescence, what we misunderstand in the term as we over-consume, and reframes it as “premature ageing,” a process “drawn by external causes and not just by a predefined life cycle of the object.”

The main reason [for the replacement of a phone] was economical (a discount, or the renewal of their contract), the second one was the desire for more features and functionalities. Only then came the replacement of phones because of a breakdown or dysfunction. This example significantly illustrates the impact of the context over the breakdown of the object as a motive of replacement. […]

This would be an opportunity for emancipating ourselves from technological objects that can’t be understood, repaired or maintained because they are designed as black boxes. […]

Designing for obsolete devices is a strategy for considering differently products and people that are currently not the priority of the industry, and I believe that a critical understanding of obsolescence can open a lot of new directions for designers from all design fields.