“From WHOA to meh” – Jonathan Chapman’s Inaugural Lecture

On Wednesday 22nd, I was fortunate enough to attend Jonathan Chapman’s inaugural lecture: Meaningful Stuff – Designing Longer-Lasting Material Experience at the University of Brighton. Yes, I mean THE Jonathan Chapman, author of Emotionally Durable Design. This prince of sustainable design gave an inspiring talk that made the audience laugh at his touching experiences and gasp in horror at the horrifically inefficient lives we lead. Let me share with you a little of what I learnt.

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Jonathan Chapman’s Inaugural Lecture Opening Slide

He opened with the concept of an illusion that we all know too well. The smartphone. Your average smartphone (blackberry, iPhone etc) weighs approximately 200g, right? But if we take into consideration the materials and waste during production of your flashy device, your smartphone actually weighs 500kg. Yep, that’s about the same as a horse. 70kg of that is solely in CO2 Emissions. That seems shocking enough as it is, but then he presented these figures that have been the seed of his research:

40 : 1 : 98 : 6 : 1 : 0

What’s all this about? 40 tonnes in production are used for every ton of products produced of which 98% of these products we throw away within months of purchase making our products only 1% efficient… inhale… leaving us with the 0 which is what will become of our world if we continue in this manner. Pretty crazy right? Almost every product we purchase we go from WHOA this is amazing to meh, don’t really care much for it. The question is, how can we stop this planned obsolescence? Chapman’s answer lies within sustainable design with strong emotional attachments.

So here is a taster of a few concepts to keep in mind when designing to aim for a more sustainable future:

  •  DIY Culture
  •  Cherish and Repair
  •  Upgrades and Services
  •  Economic Performance

And the list goes on.

Puma Sustainable Design Collective

I can safely say that, although this talk wasn’t heavily factual, it was a real inspirational talk that pushes me to implement these concepts into my own current and future designs.

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End Slide

Thank you Jonathan Chapman!

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