“Planned obsolescence with conviction.”

February 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm 1 comment

I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful and thought-provoking lunch with Andrew Losowsky and his friend Matt today. One of the many topics we covered was the trend of creative businesses striving more and more for greater accountability and overall awareness of their products’ lifespans.

While my knee jerk reaction in this arena is to promote investment into more expensive and longer lasting products, I was fascinated to hear about Nike’s ultra-light Mayfly Men’s Running Shoe. The shoes only last for 100 km, or roughly 62 miles. At that point, you send the shoes back to Nike to be recycled instead of dumping them in the trash, as would be the case with other short-lived products like batteries or disposable razors. So the shoes have a deliberately short lifespan (a design strategy usually called “planned obsolescence”) but waste relatively little resources, except possibly those from shipping.

Thanks to BERG London for posting about their experience with the Mayfly shoes, and to Andrew for tipping me off to it. All photos from Flickr user moleitau (aka BERG principal Matt Jones).

February 11’s daily design idea is even the best eco-friendly products must come to an end. Let’s hope that more and more used products can be handled like the Mayfly shoes!


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Congrats to the winners of the first annual SEED Competition! Ready for spring.

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