How can we fix our relentless habit of buying new stuff to replace perfectly functional older stuff? James Pierce of Indiana University has an idea: design household objects to interact with us periodically and engage our attention beyond their established roles:
For instance, he has designed a table with an embedded digital counter that displays the number of heavy objects that have been placed on it during its lifetime. The counter becomes blurry or erratic if someone drops a heavy object on the table, only later returning to the correct count.
Another approach is cheeky misbehaviour, such as a lamp that dims if you leave it on for too long; shaking the lamp “wakes” it again. Or a clock that occasionally shows the wrong time, only to correct itself and display a message that it was just joking.
There’s more than a hint of Philip K Dick in that idea… and as much as I can see where Pierce is trying to go, it’s surely a bit too playful and arty to actually swing in the real world. I don’t know about you, but if I had a clock that periodically lied about what time it was, I’d replace it sooner rather than later!