Thoughts on ownership and access

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Access model, Business Model Archetypes, Product Attachment and Trust

Ken Webster

Yesterday, Ken Webster from the Ellen MacArthur foundation gave an interesting talk about Circular Economy. He presented the bigger picture, the macroscopic view, of why we need to change the current economic system. According to him, a new circular economy is not just a way out of environmental disaster, but also a way for a more sustainable and just social development. I found his thoughts very interesting and it clearly showed that we are still far from reaching the goal.

In the end he commented on how to convince people to rent or lease instead of buying stuff. He said:

People want to own their own toys, but tools is something completely different. I don’t care if I own my own mobilephone or dishwasher…

The last couples of weeks I have been thinking a lot about in which situation users would want to buy access to speakers instead of buying them. And the problem I have been facing is exactly that a wireless speaker can be regarded as toy. This shows how the Attachment and Trust strategy is only suited for the classic long-life model and can act against an Access model. If people are to attached to a product they want to own it.

So to make an access model attractive I should look at a situation where a speaker act more like a tool and the “job to get done” is more important than the product itself. Some could argue that the music will always be the reason to buy a speaker. But I would argue that market differentiation have turned wireless speakers into lifestyle products. Product designers and marketeers do everything they can to create product attachment. It is interesting to ask if music is an utilitarian need or not? I think it clearly depend of the person you ask.

I think that Websters distinction between toys and tools is true for normal use. But the service element of an access model should not be forgotten. A great service can make it attractive to rent even toys…


Ideas for design for Attachment and trust

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

Design for Attachment and Trust is a design strategy that offers a wide range of different design solutions (as you can read about in this blog post) . A few weeks ago I made a list of different ideas for designs that would have an element of design for attachment and trust. I have know extended it a bit and would like to share it with you:


Attachment through narrative

Make the product of old products

Make of sustainable materials


Attachment through personalization and involvement

Customization through exchangeable and personal parts covers

Customization through 3D printed housing

The user assemble the product

The user put their own mark on the product in another way

Mass customized speakers (design your own unique speaker online)


Trust through added functionality

Make speaker with life saving function (e.g. smoke detector)

Make intelligent speaker that react to the surroundings

Speaker as intelligent helper that tell you e.g. if your other gadgets are about to be low on battery


Trust through quality and durability

Make speaker of premium components and solid wiring

Make super sturdy and water proof speaker


Attachment through appearance

Unusual choice of materials

Honest design

Make in materials that become more beautiful over time (e.g. leather or wood)


Attachment and trust through interaction

Emotional lightning

Feature that make the music follow your heartbeat

New and alternative forms of interaction, e.g. by gestures


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.