Posts tagged “unconsumption”

What Shoes Say

While doing a very straightforward image search for “shoes” the other day, I was presented with these two, side by side. They represent extreme cultural points: one of ultra-consumption (high fashion on the red-carpet), one of unconsumption based in necessity (re-purposed PET bottles). Both pair are ergonomically undesirable, one intentionally. The materials are strikingly similar, the gestures expressed by the feet as different as the footwear design is visually.

I wonder what this juxtaposition brings to mind for others?

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] Austrian phone booths repurposed to charge electric vehicles [] – [Creative monetization of unconsumption.] Now that mobile phones are ubiquitous, public phone booths are fast becoming obsolete. In a bid to find a viable new use for its 13,500 phone booths around the country, Telekom Austria has begun converting them into battery recharging stations for electric cars, scooters and motorbikes. Unveiling its first phone booth-turned-recharging station in front of the company's Vienna headquarters in May, Telekom Austria announced plans to convert an additional 29 phone booths by the end of this year. During the initial trial period, recharging is free. The company eventually plans to charge a single-digit euro sum for the recharging service, with payments to be made via mobile phone.
  • [from julienorvaisas] Adding By Leaving Out: The Power of the Pause [Liz Danzico, interactions magazine] – [We have noted the power of the pause during interviews; Ms. Danzico explores the notion at points further down the design process.] I propose that we’re too impatient with the pause, and as a result, we’re missing out on a great deal. What would happen if, as communicators and designers, we became more comfortable with the pause? Because it turns out we can add by leaving out. The pause has power.
  • [from steve_portigal] Wonder Woman, 69, Has Style and Mythos Makeover [] – “She’s been locked into pretty much the exact same outfit since her debut in 1941,” Mr. Straczynski wrote. "I wanted to toughen her up, and give her a modern sensibility.”…The new costume was designed by artist Jim Lee. Given the assignment, “my first reaction was, ‘Oh my gosh,’ ” Mr. Lee said. He welcomed the challenge: “When these characters become so branded that you can’t change things, they become ossified.”…The new look ­ with an understated “W” insignia, a midnight blue jacket and a flinty fusion of black tights and boots ­ is darker than the famed swimsuit-style outfit, and aims to be contemporary, functional….In 1968 Wonder Woman lost her powers, dressed mod and practiced martial arts. It took the attention of Gloria Steinem to protest the change, and to help get the Amazon back into her star-spangled duds. Ms. Steinem went on to use Wonder Woman on the cover of the first issue of Ms. magazine in 1972 with the line “Wonder Woman for President.”

Unconsumption Fantasy

I ran across a sweet old Pontiac in San Diego last week emblazoned with a hipster font claiming, “Cars for a”

Upon laying eyes on this car, I immediately began concocting a fantasy. In my head, “Cars for a” was an underground movement, inspired by Unconsumption, fueled by a bunch of DIYers fixing up old cars on the cheap, retrofitting them to run on bio-diesel, defiantly getting classic old models back on the road. Cars from back when they knew how to design cars. Take that Toyota, and your sticky pedals. Screw you GM – we’re still sore about you flying private jets to the bail-out hearings in Washington. “Cars for a,” I rhapsodized internally, was driven by a mission to rescue still-functional, bad-ass vehicles from the junkyard while also providing responsible and flexible transportation, and giving the public a little visual stimulation on the highways and byways along the way. All for a grand!

Alas, it turns out “Cars for a” is a site mainly aggregating listings for reserve auctions on ebay, for vehicles that will likely sell for much more than a grand, or non-functioning vehicles being sold for parts. Yawn. At least they provided a bit of inspiration for a large-scale Unconsumption project, if only for a fleeting moment.

See Also:

Unconsumption – Pecha Kucha

Last night was San Francisco’s Pecha Kucha night. I showed 20 slides, at 20 seconds per slide, on Unconsumption.

The slides are below.

And this widget will play the audio.

There were some problems with the projection at the beginning so it’s not immediately obvious where we go from slide 1 to slide 2, but hopefully by slide 3 you’ll have figured it and can follow along.

And for better visual quality, I’ve put the slides up on flickr..

Update: the slides are also on the Pecha Kucha site

Portigal in the New York Times Magazine!

I was interviewed by Rob Walker for his most recent Consumed column, about unconsumption (in yesterday’s New York Times Magazine).

In a sense, what Freecycle has done is channel the same blend of utility and pleasure that motivates consumption itself. Steve Portigal, a business-strategy consultant based in Montara, Calif., founded a Freecycle group for the San Francisco area’s coastal communities in 2004. “Getting something you need and getting rid of something you don’t need are both satisfying as problems solved,” he points out. But while we’re all well trained in the former, the latter often exceeds our patience and know-how.

I’ve written here before about Freecycle. Also, Walker has a good thread on unconsumption on his blog. I think it’s a fascinating area that is ripe for more exploration and solution development.


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