Design for durability

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Circular Design Strategies, Product Durability

This whole idea of this project is to design products with a long lifespan. To do so, it seems obvious to “design for durability”, which is one of the six proposed design strategies. It is indeed obvious, but it is not necessarily easy. It is pointless to design one part to last 100 years, if another breaks after two months. The lifespan of the whole system should therefore be considered. Durability is very much a question of the quality of the chosen components, but it is also a question of manufacturing and assembly. As I wrote in an earlier blog post I experienced that there is a clear correlation between product price and sound quality. You don’t get much bass for €10. To sell a speaker at that price the cheapest solutions are used. This means an integrated PCB with the cheapest components, a small driver, super thin wires, etc. But it also mean that the design is quite simple and that there actually are relatively few elements that can fail. So cheap is not necessarily directly linked to short technical lifetime.

At the workshop last thursday I had the pleasure to get supervision by an industry expert, Ronald Salters, who have many years of experience from Phillips and Bose. He could tell me a lot about speaker design and give valuable insights in to how the industry works. He pointed out that it typically is the cone of the driver that fails. And he explained how a huge quality improvement can be obtained with just a few extra dollars spend on production. In the next couple of days I will make an overview of how such quality steps would look. Meanwhile I can share some of my other design ideas that will increase durability:


Ideas for design for durability

Durable metal housing, e.g. in cast aluminum

Limit number of components and buttons

Waterproof design

Sturdy design that can withstand drops

Inner shock protection system

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


Design for adaptability and upgradability

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Circular Design Strategies, Standardization & Compatibility

At first the design strategy adaptability and upgradability can seem similar to standardization and compatibility. But there is an important difference. Adaptability and upgradability is about anticipating the future and preparing your product for what might come.

I see that there are two main ways to do this

  • Enable future software upgrades (build in CPU, memory and internet-connectivity)
  • Modular design that allows for addition of new elements (e.g. bigger battery, solar cell, chip for the next generation wireless technology)

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)