Building a Repair Culture at École des Arts Décoratifs

New repairability ideas at École des Arts Décoratifs

Last Tues­day we assist­ed to the Chaire Écode­sign & Créa­tion. Resti­tu­tion: Désir­abil­ité et répara­bil­ité des objets pour 2042 at the École des Arts Déco­rat­ifs in Paris. We wit­nessed many inter­est­ing projects about repara­bil­i­ty on prod­uct design.

The background

With the guid­ance of the teacher Alexan­dre Fougea and the super­vi­sion of the design stu­dio Noir Vif, this for­ward-look­ing approach and the impor­tance of reflec­tion have enabled stu­dents to come up with bold solu­tions that com­bine tan­gi­ble objects address­ing the issue of repairabil­i­ty and usage or ser­vice sce­nar­ios that con­tex­tu­alise their rel­e­vance.

Noir Vif is a design stu­dio found­ed by André Fontes and Guil­laume Lehoux in 2011, spe­cial­is­ing in the cre­ation of prod­ucts and objects for new uses or mar­kets. The two expe­ri­enced design­ers com­ple­ment their point of view with André’s expe­ri­ence as an engi­neer and Guil­laume’s mas­ter’s degree in inno­v­a­tive design meth­ods from ENSAM Paris.

This project is a part­ner­ship between DECATHLON and the École des Arts Déco­rat­ifs, where they are work­ing togeth­er to sup­port young design­ers in cre­at­ing for­ward-look­ing projects that align with their val­ues. The busi­ness is com­mit­ted to lis­ten­ing and under­stand­ing the pro­pos­als of the new gen­er­a­tions in order to address the chal­lenges of the eco­log­i­cal tran­si­tion, with excit­ing new ideas.

The exciting projects

The first group of stu­dents pre­sent­ed an inno­v­a­tive project at the exhi­bi­tion called One Patch, One Sto­ry. The project focus­es on cre­at­ing val­ue in repaired gar­ments, rather than sim­ply dis­card­ing them. The con­cept involves repair­ing clothes using patch­es that tell a unique sto­ry. For instance, if a jack­et is torn dur­ing a hik­ing trip, it will be fixed with a patch fea­tur­ing a cute design of the moun­tains. The stu­dents’ main aim is to give each item of cloth­ing a sym­bol­ic sto­ry by adding these patch­es. This approach not only pro­motes sus­tain­able fash­ion but also adds a per­son­al touch to the cloth­ing, mak­ing it more spe­cial to the wear­er.

Anoth­er note­wor­thy project show­cased at the exhi­bi­tion fea­tured eas­i­ly dis­as­sem­bling chairs designed for both indoor and out­door use. The cre­ators sought to intro­duce out­door fur­ni­ture into indoor spaces with more eco-friend­ly mate­ri­als that can be eas­i­ly replaced. By using sus­tain­able mate­ri­als, they hope to min­imise the envi­ron­men­tal impact of fur­ni­ture pro­duc­tion.

Pro­to­type of dis­as­sem­bling chairs

The third group show­cased a smart­ly designed bag and tent that use some of the same key com­po­nents in their con­struc­tion. This approach allows for quick and effi­cient repairs to be made in case of dam­age to either item. For exam­ple, if the tent breaks, the back­pack con­tains inter­change­able parts that can be eas­i­ly swapped out for a speedy and straight­for­ward fix. Sim­i­lar­ly, if the back­pack needs repairs, the tent has com­po­nents that can be used to address the issue. This inno­v­a­tive project pro­motes sus­tain­abil­i­ty by reduc­ing the need for mul­ti­ple sets of equip­ment and encour­ages out­door enthu­si­asts to invest in durable and long-last­ing gear that can be repaired rather than replaced.

The fourth group’s pre­sen­ta­tion was one of the most cap­ti­vat­ing inno­va­tions at the exhi­bi­tion — a unique con­cept called Coucou! that trans­forms a bicy­cle into a mobile sewing machine. While the idea of a mobile repair­er is not entire­ly new, this par­tic­u­lar imple­men­ta­tion is both prac­ti­cal and effi­cient. The con­cept main­tains the sporty aspect of cycling while repair­ing by using the bicy­cle to pow­er the sewing machine, cre­at­ing a unique and eco-friend­ly solu­tion for on-the-go repairs. The sad­dle is invert­ed from the tra­di­tion­al bike con­fig­u­ra­tion, allow­ing the user to ped­al in the oppo­site direc­tion to oper­ate the sewing machine. This vin­tage-inspired con­cept pro­motes sus­tain­abil­i­ty by offer­ing a way to repair cloth­ing any­where, using a sys­tem that can trav­el with ease.

The fifth group of stu­dents pre­sent­ed an engag­ing project designed for chil­dren, aimed at encour­ag­ing their cre­ativ­i­ty and instill­ing the desire to tin­ker with objects. The con­cept revolves around do-it-your­self (DIY) activ­i­ties that are safe for chil­dren and involve easy-to-use tools and explana­to­ry mod­els. The focus is on repair­ing objects, as well as ele­vat­ing them by intro­duc­ing mul­ti­ple shapes and cre­at­ing a col­lec­tion con­cept. The idea is not only to pro­vide a fun and edu­ca­tion­al activ­i­ty for chil­dren but also to poten­tial­ly spark an inter­est in repairs as a future voca­tion. This project offers a safe and acces­si­ble way to intro­duce chil­dren to basic repair skills, pro­mot­ing a sense of accom­plish­ment and self-suf­fi­cien­cy.

The fol­low­ing group pre­sent­ed an inno­v­a­tive con­cept of a bag that evolves over time, fea­tur­ing detach­able pieces that can be eas­i­ly replaced, instead of buy­ing a new bag each time. Their unique approach to bag design includes an assem­bly sys­tem with a basic mod­ule that builds the entire bag, as depict­ed in their designs. Addi­tion­al­ly, the project fea­tures a mod­u­lar design that allows for adapt­abil­i­ty to dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions and moods, with a range of dif­fer­ent pock­ets and colours to choose from, cre­at­ing a unique style for each indi­vid­ual bag. The focus on sus­tain­abil­i­ty and prac­ti­cal­i­ty is appar­ent in the design, with an empha­sis on the ease of repair and longevi­ty of the bag.

The last group of stu­dents pre­sent­ed an inno­v­a­tive solu­tion to address the dif­fi­cul­ties faced by indi­vid­u­als when repair­ing prod­ucts due to lack of infor­ma­tion. They intro­duced the con­cept of an NFC (Near Field Com­mu­ni­ca­tion) label that con­tains all the nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion about a prod­uct, includ­ing its com­po­si­tion and repair instruc­tions. This solu­tion aims to address the com­mon prob­lem of peo­ple in France who intend to repair their items but lack the nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion to do so.

The group show­cased a ser­vice that involves a machine that scans the NFC tag on a bro­ken object to iden­ti­fy it and send it to the appro­pri­ate repair sys­tem based on its iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. They opt­ed for NFC tech­nol­o­gy instead of RFID (Radio Fre­quen­cy Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion) code, which is com­mon­ly used in the fash­ion indus­try, because NFC can hold more infor­ma­tion and can also include a link to a web­site. Scan­ning the NFC tag pro­vides the user with access to help­ful videos and tuto­ri­als on how to repair their item with­out requir­ing pro­fes­sion­al assis­tance. This solu­tion not only pro­motes sus­tain­abil­i­ty but also empow­ers con­sumers to take charge of their repair needs, pro­vid­ing them with the nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion and resources to extend the life of their prod­ucts.

Sustainability. Towards The Future

These projects not only demon­strat­ed the cre­ativ­i­ty and resource­ful­ness of the stu­dent but also reflect­ed a grow­ing aware­ness of the need for sus­tain­able and adapt­able designs that can with­stand the test of time. As con­sumers become more con­scious of their envi­ron­men­tal impact, it is cru­cial that prod­uct design evolves to meet this demand. The projects pro­vide an inspir­ing exam­ple of how design can be used to cre­ate a bet­ter future for all.

To learn more about trail­blaz­ing projects hap­pen­ing on the design indus­try, vis­it our ded­i­cat­ed sec­tion. Join our com­mu­ni­ty of like-mind­ed indi­vid­u­als who are pas­sion­ate about eth­i­cal and pio­neer­ing design.

Written by David Ferrero
April 18, 2023

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