So this is another thing which started out as a post I wanted to write a little while ago, and builds in ways off of yesterdays post. I've always been really interested in obsolescence as a feature of design, and the different ways that it plays with our products or interactions. There is of course the most obvious obsolescence, which is the object which ceases to function after an event—like a software update (or even a wrapper which is disposed once it is removed). The other type of obsolescence which I have come into contact more recently is cultural obsolescence.
So we could probably see this in object, like furniture or something, but it presented itself most starkly in textiles to me, where the industry is more closely aligned to the fashion industry. The interesting thing here is that all of the companies I visited work incredibly hard on being as environment positive as possible. Not only that, they also design textiles which should be able to last 20 year in space. Here's the funny thing though, most of the spaces these are going in are hospitality or corporate environments, and most of those hospitality spaces will be redeveloped every 5-10 years. We can design textiles which are better for the environment and could last extremely well, but fashion and a need to "refresh" an environment drives this work out.
This is obviously pretty interesting when contrasted with the world of "heritage" products. I have no idea how much longer the whole mid-century modern thing is going to be around for, but it's still going strong right now. The fabric designs, motifs and typologies of the furniture continue to stick around and it's really interesting how companies have been able to produce a prestige and revere for the history surrounding these products when we are so repulsed by the old in so many other situations.
I guess my question is, how do we codify long-term products nowadays, and what can we do to apply a broad set of cultural standards which might help redefine the need for the shortened life-span which so many of them have currently?