Skin deep. Perceptions of human and material ageing and opportunities for design
journal contributionposted on 17.01.2019, 11:27 by Ben Bridgens, Debra Lilley, Hannah Zeilig, Caroline Searing
In Western society there is an obsession, fuelled by pervasive advertising, with hiding the effects of ageing and maintaining skin that exudes ‘youthful perfection’. Rapid unsustainable purchasing and disposal of mass-produced objects is, in part, driven by ‘cosmetic obsolescence’ - changes to the pristine material surface which are perceived as damage and degradation. We consider the parallels between these attitudes to changes in material surfaces and human ageing, and propose that actively considering future material change in product design could increase product longevity with both environmental and social benefits.
The authors would like to thank the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council who funded preliminary work which provided the basis for this paper as part of the Closed Loop Emotionally Valuable E-waste Recovery project (CLEVER; EP/K026380/1) and subsequent Impact Acceleration Account ENabling Designers to Understand mateRial changE (ENDURE) project.