Abstract

In this paper we raise the question: does our consumer behaviour make us happy? The infinite source of consumer desires seems to be the justification of an ever increasing amount of products that inundate our lives. Consumption itself is set free from any functional bond, bringing our current consumption levels to the point that it is ecologically destructive and unsustainable. By examining philosophical theories of well-being we argue that consumer satisfaction does not of necessity lead to happiness, and we reach the conclusion that it is in the act of appropriation -fitting the acquired artefacts into our lives- that consumption of goods renders a meaningful attribution to our well-being. Building on theories of Science and Technology Studies, we propose the design of objects with open scripts, as a means to facilitate and encourage this act of appropriation as a conscious process. This design perspective is made more tangible by the examination of several examples from fashion design and investigated further in a short design exploration. Five design professionals were asked to apply the open script design perspective in the design of new garment concepts. The results of both activities show that it is possible to design products that encourage the process of appropriation by demanding a certain dedication of the user in accomplishing her use-goal. We expect that this encourages product bonding and render our possessions less replaceable. Although the few products that employ an open script will not overcome consumerism and transform society at large, we do believe they can help bring about an attitude change and help to establish well-being as the purpose of consumption.

Keywords:

Well-Being; Consumer behaviour; Design Ethics; Design Activism; Open Scripts; Desire Fulfilment Theories; Value Fulfilment theory; Interpretative Flexibility.

Share

COinS
 
Jun 16th, 12:00 AM

How to Interest People for the Hare instead of the Chase, An exploration of open script design to change consumer behaviour

In this paper we raise the question: does our consumer behaviour make us happy? The infinite source of consumer desires seems to be the justification of an ever increasing amount of products that inundate our lives. Consumption itself is set free from any functional bond, bringing our current consumption levels to the point that it is ecologically destructive and unsustainable. By examining philosophical theories of well-being we argue that consumer satisfaction does not of necessity lead to happiness, and we reach the conclusion that it is in the act of appropriation -fitting the acquired artefacts into our lives- that consumption of goods renders a meaningful attribution to our well-being. Building on theories of Science and Technology Studies, we propose the design of objects with open scripts, as a means to facilitate and encourage this act of appropriation as a conscious process. This design perspective is made more tangible by the examination of several examples from fashion design and investigated further in a short design exploration. Five design professionals were asked to apply the open script design perspective in the design of new garment concepts. The results of both activities show that it is possible to design products that encourage the process of appropriation by demanding a certain dedication of the user in accomplishing her use-goal. We expect that this encourages product bonding and render our possessions less replaceable. Although the few products that employ an open script will not overcome consumerism and transform society at large, we do believe they can help bring about an attitude change and help to establish well-being as the purpose of consumption.

 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.