Letting go of what is, for what could be. Postulating what’s next.

a conversation on design, a look into a possible future, and the value of design beyond it’s utility. 

ME: What if there were a group of people who were fascinated by items worn by regular people of a certain lifestyle?

Like heirloom items.

Like leather jackets, Van shoes, Toms, tables, and all these other type of items.

What if we began investing in things with a human inprint already in them for good luck?

At what point does that threshold of wearing other people’s clothing like “thrifters’, move pass the early majority and on to the mainstream? Is it when we start valuing those imprints, when we can truly value that someone spent their life in that shirt and that means something for us all.

Thrifting, used clothing for really really cheap

Let’s imagine you go into this “future” store, every product is used, it’s not seen as negative but quite the opposite.You see a leather jacket that looks “perfectly worn”. The previous owner’s name remained anonymous, but maybe every product we had stocked had a letter and brief description of the life of this object. This specific leather jacket read, “worn by one who spent half his life in the mountains and the rest dreaming of being there”

Could this be a future that people would be willing to invest in?

[some background: my partner who is busy and brought in her tattered blanket that she has had since she was 3, brought it to work once by accident]

Today if I showed you a cloth made of the finest materials, the prettiest design, and it felt amazing between your fingers, would you trade it for your blanket?

You wouldn’t right.

her: no

What if that’s what people wanted in the future?

Because it’s visceral and has a unison with you that a new product can not easily get.

her: true .. but its relative to me .. i wouldn’t want someone else’s blanket
Me: That’s what we think today. Driven from conventional wisdom.

That’s the regular mind at work. But that’s easily refuted by my co worker wanting to wear Elvis’ jacket and willing to pay for it.

Your brother wanting to wear his father’s type of boxers one day.

People bid on famous people’s items constantly.

Their motivations are wide but it is all about connection at the core.

As the world starts to move closer together social norms will again be tinkered with.

Someone like [Alana] would be a perfect example, she found her jacket travelling. She’s quite boastful about it even. “I got this jacket in the middle of Nevada, had a little smell, I washed it and now it’s as good as new”, I asked her if she thought about who owned it, she said “Yes, sure, I like to think that she liked to travel like me, and maybe in a turn of crazy events she threw it out the window for the next stage of her life.”

Maybe this didn’t happen but the very fact that she added symbolism to this object made it that much closer to her. Not the products features. But the imprint it carried.

her: hmm yea maybe so
Me: Try to imagine the world as it could be.

The world today is simply flooded with massive amounts of consumer products. Most people in the early majority have already replaced their Apple iPhone, or psychologically made the choice to as soon as they have the means to do so, some of them have their old Apple iPhone already available on craigslist to support the next one.Where is the loyalty in that singular product, not iPhone the series, and not Apple, but that specific device?

And in a year or two it will happen again.

We throw away so much, and replace it with something that hopefully does it reasonably better, costs less, or allows us to get something else done entirely.

We are drowning in products and services.

We are drowning in information, in social networks, feeds, emails, and are addicted to being connected in the West especially.

In my life experiences I’ve found we always rubber band when things start to tip too far almost to an extreme. USA was more recently very very Republican and somewhat conservative, lately the opposite has been in full swing. (perhaps not the government but the people themselves)

India used to be thought of as a problematic country that needs help, although every country does, not all of us could have easily known that it’s now gearing up to be the super power at #2 to China over the USA.

The Ottoman Empire, gone, Han Dynasty gone, British Empire gone, Roman Empire, gone.

These were extremely opinionated empires, who were pure to form, and eventually they crumbled, and soon after the rubber band effect displayed it’s ability to bring out an uproar of the opposite.

My point is that we are headed towards the edge of the rubber band and soon the tide will turn, it’s already happening already, as the early adopters and innovators have already started at the forefront. A matter of time until the rest of the tide turns.

Autonomy is a buzzword these days right?

The next step of power is who can disconnect for the longest without feeling the need to feed the perceived fasting.

Many of us are still living lives where in the middle of our mediocre day, we reach out to the world and say, “I’m eating lunch, look it’s grilled salmon. :)”

Exciting. To Die For. All so very very exciting.

The early adopters and innovators are showing their work, which they believe to be their purpose. They seem to be displaying their excited-ness at what their doing, instead of what they are doing when they aren’t doing work.

There will soon be(mainstream), and their is, social value in disconnecting. There will be those who simply cannot disconnect and they will be the peasants of the culture, and those who are so connected in their physical reality, they have no reason to update their networks.

Would be nice to study people with fairly small amount of social network friends and do ethnographic interviews with them, tracking them over time to see their behaviours. Their lack of motivation to be connected could display them as rejecters or possibly their lives are ones that have adopted something else. Maybe it’s traditionalism or something more, either way, those behaviours of outliers can show key elements to how future products need to be designed for this segment to adopt.

Back to my point is that we are moving swiftly towards the search for transcendence. Like we have read, “We’ve lost our Gods”, so what is left? We are. It’s valuing ourselves and others. We were born around businesses serving the masses all the same way, but as of late personalisation has been a key differentiator and may quickly become a requirement for some consumers if not already for some. We need to feel special and in return we can more easily make others feel special.

her: true , one could deduct that those who update most are actually the least connected
her: even when with someone they still feel the need to reach out , possibly indicating that they’re not really connected to the people they’re with in the first place
her: true

My main point being we are moving towards a new era. I believe this era will strip us of this mass consumerism, and

we will look at someone’s briefcase and see how worn and frayed it is, and we will connect more to that. Not the new shiny product. Someone would value that briefcase and infer that this guy had been in many board rooms and he still hadn’t given up. Or perhaps think he had made it, and in that moment there would be a connection, inspiration perhaps.

The surfer whose board is a symbolic representation of his commitment will be the talking points. Will be the core social value.

It will be those who design for reuse. Those who design by repurposing, those who tell you when and where it comes from. We need to connect even deeper because of the sheer amount of disconnect products are eliciting. So we need to build products that will be reused, shared, lived in, lived out, and design them to be passed on. Products are not human until the human leaves an imprint. I believe this could be the core value of the future.

—-done by the way—-

me: hmm interesting point of view
me: what inspired you to think of that?
me: I talked about your blanket to Emery yesterday.
That tattered blanket you accidently brought to work inspired me.
her: what about it
me: Then I was thinking that that is proof to me beyond utility. Beyond the use.
I told him that you have a blanket and that your connection is deeper than I could ever ponder to. But yet I still have this respect for it. This careful distance.
And I was thinking if a building burned this would be one of the items you would probably go back for. (if you’d go back at all)
Emotional design.
her: that’s true

We must accept that evolution is happening all around us. That we may not see it, but norms are changing, fixating, and infecting many. The key question for my proposed future is this, “Are people willing to look at things differently, gay was once thought of as a disease, now it’s looked at differently and the perspective has evolved.

So can people evolve to look at a leather jacket that says “This was owned by a man who had 5 children and spent his life on the road, he donated this jacket when he decided to become a father”. And a person in a similar situation read that, and beyond the fact that it’s someone else’s be able to feel with empathy, and relate to that jacket? That he would satisfactorily know that it belonged to a man who went through what he is going through right now in his life and see hope because this man that wore this coat succeeded. He puts on the jacket and walks out on a mission. And what if each and every time he put that jacket on he remembered that it’s purpose was to remind him of his mission and he was better because of it?



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