Why do we, in the European Union (EU), discard of domestic electronic products (DEPs) that still work? Landfill sites across Europe are overloaded with fully functioning DEPs, toasters that still toast and freezers that still freeze, all of which still perform their tasks perfectly, in a utilitarian sense. In an emotive sense, waste of this nature could be seen as nothing more than a symptom of a failed relationship between the subject and the object. Durability therefore, is just as much about emotion, love and attachment, as it isfractured polymers, worn gaskets or blown circuitry. The hypothesis of this research is that consumer desires continually evolve and change whilst the DEPs deployed to both mediate and satisfy those desires remain relatively frozen in time; it is this incapacity for mutual evolution that renders most DEPs incapable of both establishing and sustaining emotionally durable relationships with users. The waste this inconsistency generates is substantial, coming at increasing cost to manufacturers facing the stringent policy-driven demands of the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, and perhaps more importantly, the Natural World.
Through conducting the largest product life census of its kind – staged at 100% Design (Earls’Court, London, 21-24 September, 2006) with 2154 respondents – followed by a 1-day creative workshop event (University of Brighton, 25 June, 2007) – in which 6 (co-designed) experimental DEPs were formulated and rationalised – this thesis delivers a design framework for the creation of emotionally durable DEPs; providing the creative industry with an accessible body of new and original knowledge that facilitates the developments of new ways of working in compliance with the EU WEEE Directive.