Thoughts on attachment and trust

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Circular Design Strategies, Product Attachment and Trust

Most of has much more stuff than we need. In reality relatively few objects are needed to survive and function in your daily life. Not long ago there was a TV-show in Denmark that showed this point. The concept of the program was simple; the participants had to put ALL their belongings in a container and every day they could pick up one item. The point of the show was to make the participants realise how few things they really need in the materialised world of today. When I have backpacked I have realised myself, how little you actually need. Why do we own so much stuff then? Because products are much more than function. Products are about meaning, identity and wellbeing. And the design strategy “design for attachment and trust” is all about this. It is the traditional domain of product designers, creating an emotional connection between user and artefact. If such an emotional connection exists the user will be careful with the product and postpone replacement.

It is maybe the most important of all design strategies, but also the hardest. There are no simple formula for attachment or any clear step-by-step guide that can explain how you create trust. But the Product That Last book gives some good hints and points in interesting directions. One is to make intelligent products that react to their surrounding and have a personality on their own. Another is to let the user also be the co-creator of the object. The book has to important remarks: one is the connection between price and attachment. If we payed a lot for something, we also perceive it as more valuable and are therefore more likely to keep it or repair it. Another interesting remark is the notion of “suspension of distrust” – you only put something away to be forgotten, or throw something away if it disturbs you in some sense. This notion can explain why fashion products tend to have such a short lifetime. They have strong attachment with the user, but because they also attention-demanding, suspension of distrust appears after a short period of time.

Even though this is not my main strategy, it is certain that I have to think about attachment and trust in my solution.

Design for ease of maintenence and repair + dis- and reassembly

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Circular Design Strategies, Dis- and Reassembly, Ease of maintenance and Repair


I’m not very satisfied with my coffee maker. The reason is that it is almost impossible to clean a certain part. I doubt that the designers ever tried to use the product, because they would have noticed this almost instantly. Thinking about cleaning, maintenance and repair is important, but not for all products. A speaker is supposed to just work, but repairs should still be considered. After some years the battery will need replacement. Design for dis- and reassembly share many of and design for maintenance and repair share many of the same design guidelines:

  • Make access to parts easy by avoiding glue and other non-reversible joining methods
  • Use standard screws or no screws at all
  • Make repair manuals available to the public
  • Use standard parts

The current trend of miniaturization is a treat to these sound principles. The screen on the MacBook I’m writing this on is glued to the frame in order to make it 0,5 millimeter thinner. Speakers also become smaller and many doesn’t use standard screws.


Some other ideas 

Make it is possible to access parts without any tools

Casing made of disposable materials (e.g. cardboard)

Make speaker transparent so it is easy to see what is inside (and thereby make it more likely that it will not end up in the bin)