I set out to investigate maintenance as an activity that can extend the useful life of a product. This remains, however my understanding of the breadth of this subject has deepened as I have begun to discover the many factors and theories that can impact upon this intention.
This start point and the research that followed have exposed a number of ideas and theories beyond the design discipline that are directly relevant to this subject. It has become apparent that, what I once considered a simple proposition of taking active care of an object is actually a complex issue with many avenues to explore. In this respect, the approach that I have taken so far seems to have been productive.
Initially this complexity and wealth of opportunity that it presents seemed overwhelming until I discovered the concept of speculative design as practiced by Dunne and Raby and The Agency of Design. This presents the opportunity to use the professional tools of a designer to present tangible, but challenging concepts through the design of familiar objects that embody alternate narratives. This approach is something that I wish to pursue as a means of communicating the many complexities of this subject.
The notion that design can have agency is not new, but to frame it in this way is exciting as I felt I needed to find a strong direction for my work that goes beyond notions of sustainability. For the first time I have read Social Science theory and found aspects of it to have great relevance to design. The evolution of the design discipline as described by the Bremen Scale, the notions of Human Agency that propose the capacity to imagine alternative possibilities and the ideas proposed by Matthew Crawford about Manual Competence all seem to tie together to provide a theoretical framework for my future design project work.
I feel that this research has taken my understanding of my discipline a good distance and has opened up some strong direction for speculative design response as a means of articulating the ideas that have developed from this work so far.