Critical Care

Critical Care Set, PLATE Conference, Nottingham 2015


Critical Design: Smartphone Care Kit

Advances in material technology are helping to improve the durability of the external finish of these expensive and powerful devices. Special glass, surface coatings and material processing may mean that we will not need to pay any attention to the cosmetic condition of the most valuable object that we regularly carry with us. This development, alongside the lack of understanding of the real financial value of smartphones has given rise to a general lack of active care for these devices. Through critical design, this project aims to highlight this lack of care and to provoke a reaction that will encourage the audience to consider taking better care of their possessions.


This ‘Phone Care Kit’ is designed to reflect the visual language of the accessories associated with contemporary electronic products, whilst being produced from traditional materials associated with vanity sets and traditional care kits. The smart phone offers an interesting opportunity for critical design as there seems to be a significant miss-match between the monetary value of the product, the length of ownership and the care taken to look after this expensive personal item.

Designed using traditional materials and a deliberately simple utilitarian style, these tools evoke old fashioned practices of maintenance. These critical objects aim to provoke the viewer into considering the value of the digital devices that they carry about them everyday and to engage in actively taking care of their digital possessions.


Through critical design, the project encourages the viewer to consider their ownership of expensive devices and to extended the useful life of the product through active care practices. The tools provided allow the user to take care of the battery of their smartphone, thus extending the life of this component. Other tools help to foster a sense of value and personal connection through the act of cleaning and maintaining the cosmetic qualities of the device.

This project formed part of an exhibition at the PLATE Conference, Nottingham, UK 2015.

Smartphone Care Set BoardSmartphone Care Set Board