2. Refrigerator Design for product durability

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2.1 The durability can be enhanced by using less different materials. The insulation, the housing and the lining could all be made from Expanded Polypropylene (EPP). This material in 100% recyclable. Less parts means less stock keeping units, countering dead stock and cutting costs.

Urban Arrow bakfiets-hollandse-bakfietsen.nl

2.2 Low tech solutions:
‘Terracotta has been used for water storage for centuries. Cooling occurs by natural evaporation through the pores of the terracotta material. Royal VKB’s Water Carafe is self cooling whilst standing in the sun on your garden table but is only suitable for serving water.’ http://www.royalvkb.com/productdet.asp?catid=1159
water_carafe_detail03b38ba0d16deeecb5191c0e4a0eb425

 

3.3 Degradation-resistant materials
Most foams that are used lose the Blow Agent gas resulting is less insulation.

1. Refrigerator Design for attachment and trust

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1.1 Attachment can be created by using classic design. Like old timer cars and retro models.
http://elektrischeoldtimer.nl/
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1.2 If the circular refrigerator is very comfortable to use this can increase the product attachment; food is easy accessible, clear sight at what you have. A smart system that keeps track of what should be eaten before it expires.

1.3 Enable a narrative. A meaningful interaction with the fridge door could be provoked. Attaching Pictures, recipes, reactions of friends…

8131309331_5925625e0f_b Target Emerson Dry Erase Dorm Mini Fridge

 

1.4 Create a product that appears to be conscious. The fridge could show which compartment needs attention; indicating that the food inside is near its ‘consume before date’. A two way mirror layer on glass compartment doors could create this effect when a bright light is lit inside.
4f8193b8f3f855eae79bbce0caf7efc6light-compartment1light-compartment-food-picture2

Circular Challenge

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A refrigerator has become a low involvement product because it’s self-evident that you have one at home. We expect it to work but most people don’t take proper care of their machine.

Three main challenges can be identified:
1. Poor maintenance (People should clean the back and inside for proper functioning)
2. Not used optimal (Frequently opened, warm food, location of food, over stock, temp settings, … )
3. Decreasing lifetime while the optimal replacement time is not even met now. (Emotionally obsolete or lack of convenient repair/upgrade options?)

In the Netherlands, people move seven times in their life, which is about once every ten years on average.  But the average doesn’t count because people move more often when they are young. If we want refrigerators to last 20 years they should adapt to the new home and probably the new household (expanded family, children moved out, divorce, … )

Design Goal

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The design goal is a circular Refrigerator. 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.
The focus will be on the life span of  the product/components/materials and ultimately their reuse. The preservation of food (countering food waste) and energy efficiency is the second focus.

Project scope
The result will be a redesign of a product that is in the mature life cycle stage. The common, two door refrigerator that can be found in most households. (About half of the Dutch households have a two door standalone refrigerator, priced around €650)
The Smart/Connected fridge won’t be taken into account because that would be less suitable to showcase the ‘Products that last’ theory that I wan’t to use; Small changes that will help normal product to last.

Six different circular design strategies will be applied to study what a circular refrigerator could be:

  1. Design for product attachment and trust is aimed at countering emotional obsolescence by creating products that will be loved, liked or trusted longer; for example the Patek Philippe watch.
  2. Design for product durability is aimed at countering functional obsolescence by developing products that can take wear and tear; for example the Miele washing machine.
  3. Design for standardisation and compatibility is aimed at countering systemic obsolescence by creating products with parts that fit other products as well; for example the Vitsoe wall shelving.
  4. Design for ease of maintenance and repair is aimed at countering functional obsolescence by enabling products to be maintained in tip-top condition; for example the Rolls Royce jet engine and the Philips pay-per-lux solution.
  5. Design for upgradability and adaptability is aimed at countering systemic obsolescence by allowing for future expansion and modification; for example the Kitchen Aid mixer.
  6. Design for disassembly and reassembly is aimed at countering systemic obsolescence by ensuring product parts can be separated and reassembled easily. For example the Auronde bed by Auping that has exchangeable parts so that a single bed can become a double bed. (other example than in the guardian)

Summary of the strategies from:
http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/six-design-strategies-longer-lasting-products

Bibliography

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

 

Product analysis: functions & properties

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Leibherr-fridge-sidebyside

Functions

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.

Context

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.

nest_thermostat_iphone_app

Bibliography

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.