How to Break the Cycle of a Throwaway Society
Jonathan Chapman, a professor and director of doctoral studies at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design, is intrigued and dismayed by the swiftness with which new possessions often lose their value in the minds of contemporary consumers. In his forthcoming book, Meaningful Stuff: Design That Lasts (M.I.T. Press), out next month, Chapman shows how unhealthy patterns of consumption can be disrupted by creating fewer, longer-lasting products, services, and systems—an “experience heavy/material light” design sensibility, as he puts it—that can facilitate a deeper relationship between people and objects while simultaneously preserving the planet. We recently spoke with Chapman about the allure of newfangled things, why they tend to become obsolete, and how to build healthier relationships with the items in our lives.
Why, psychologically, are we excited by new designs? And how can we establish better connections with the things we already own?