Design for (emotional) durability

Jonathan Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The unsustainable consumption and waste of natural resources is a legacy of modern times, born largely from the inappropriate marriage of excessive material durability with fleeting product lifespans. Waste management facilities throughout the European Union (EU) are overloaded with fully functioning domestic electronic products (DEPs). In many cases, waste of this nature can be seen as nothing more than a symptom of a failed relationship between the user and the product. This is because consumer desire is unstable; it continually evolves and adapts, whilst the DEPs deployed to both mediate and satisfy those desires remain relatively frozen in time. It is this incapacity for evolution and growth that renders most products incapable of both establishing and sustaining relationships with users. The waste this inconsistency generates is substantial, coming at increasing cost to manufacturers facing the policy-driven demands of the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive and, perhaps more importantly, the natural world. We must therefore begin to consider the emergent paradigm of emotionally durable design to propose new and alternative genres of DEPs that reduce the consumption and waste of resources by increasing the resilience of relationships established between consumers and their products; presenting a more expansive, holistic approach to design for durability, and more broadly, the lived experience of sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-35
Number of pages7
JournalDesign Issues
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009

Bibliographical note

© 2009 Massachusetts Institute of Technology


  • consumption
  • consumerism
  • motivation
  • need
  • want
  • design
  • waste


Dive into the research topics of 'Design for (emotional) durability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this