Product analysis: functions & properties

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A refrigerator has an insulated housing and a heat pump to lower the temperature inside the refrigerator. Most refrigerators also have a freezer compartment. The refrigerator is equipped with shelves and drawers for different kinds of food. The location in the fridge affects the preservation: A guideline

An additional feature is an air filter to improve hygiene.
The ‘Hygine-Fresh’ filter of LG claims to filter out almost all the dust, fungi spore, bacteria and odors out of the air in your refrigerator.

Product Properties

In an article about product life extension, Bakker et al., 2014 argue that refrigerators should be used for 20 years instead of 14. This project will show how this can be made possible through design or service. Design strategies from the book Products that last, 2014 will be explored to figure out future possibilities. 

Emotional reason for (part) replacement: Perception of Hygiene
Visual reason for (part) replacement: Food stains in white plastic
Functional reason for (part) replacement: Door seals (gaskets) that wear down. Broken door light. Improved efficiency of cooling mechanism or hygiene system. Need for more capacity (family expansion).

Product-user interaction

Users like a well-stocked fridge. It provides them or unexpected guest with ingredients for a meal, snack or drink. A well-stocked refrigerator can be seen as a status symbol.

Opening the door heats up the refrigerator, increasing the energy demand. The content of the refrigerator can work as a buffer. The temperature of an empty fridge is effected more by opening the door.

A well-ordered refrigerator helps to prevent spoiling food. Food that should be consumed in a few days should be in sight and accessible. Next to that the location in the fridge effect the temperature and humidity the food is kept in. See the guideline mention earlier.

Cleaning the fridge is important (hygiene) but it is a hassle because you have to take out the food to properly clean.


Simply put, the context of a refrigerator is the kitchen (or scullery) because food is prepared and stored there. But taking a bit wider scope can help to find interesting developments. Within the home environment we see ‘Home automation’ influencing new designs. Next to that the way we eat is changing: Precooked meals, eating out, to go (fast food) and at the other hand a revaluation of simple healthy (local) ingredients. Slow food.



Bakker, C., Wang, F., Huisman, J., & den Hollander, M. (2014). Products that go round: exploring product life extension through design. Journal Of Cleaner Production, 69, 10-16. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.01.028

Products that last. (2014) (pp. 82-109). Delft.


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This is a blog by Titus Wybenga, showing the progress in his attempt to design a Refrigerator that suits a circular economy. The refrigerator is a day to day product that can be found in almost all households. The device used energy throughout the day and it helps to preserve food which in general has high embodied energy. Making it an interesting and challenging circular design case.