The idea behind Slow design is to change the way designers and consumers think/act when it comes to making, buying and using products. Besides choosing sustainable processes and materials, Slow design aims how to create a longer lasting relationship between a product and its user as well as consider the post-consumer life of the product. I think an easy way to understand this movement is to think about it as the opposite of fast fashion.
I found a paper by Carolyn F. Strauss and Alastair Fuad-Luke called the The Slow Design Principles. They list six principles:
- Reveal materials and processes that are missed or forgotten in the creation of a product
- Expand a product’s use beyond intended functionalities, physical attributes and lifespan
- Reflect on product’s attributes, functionality, history, consumption
- Engage with people and communities, have open-source and collaborative processes, share and co-operate
- Participate in exchange of ideas, conviviality, community, active involvement of users in design process
- Evolve over time, maturation of products, environments and systems, think about future, create behavioral change
I think this approach can definitely have a positive impact on our consumption of products, especially as it aims to change our behaviors and habits. It would be very smart to start approaching fashion as long-term investments rather than as whimsical trends. By making the public aware of the amount of waste that goes into textile manufacturing and the more sustainable alternatives that are available, I think more and more people will start making smarter decisions about what they buy and how they use it.
I had never really thought about any of this and, though I’m not a big consumerist, I can definitely make changes, such as choosing to buy more sustainable options (organic, secondhand, compostable, good quality) and looking for designers that implement approaches like Slow design or Zero waste. Just as I already tend to choose food products that are organic, Non-GMO and/or Fair Trade, I am now more likely going to choose textile products that follow greener processes. I would place more value on a product created with the principle of Slow design because even though it would probably be more expensive than a mass-produced item, it’s much more likely that it created less waste in its production, it would last longer than a cheaper product and it would be a lot easier to cherish an object that was created with care. In addition, I would be supporting a designer/manufacturer that follows sustainable practices and I would be helping to increase demand for these products.
Admittedly, it would be much harder to find products that follow these principles and a lot more thought and research would have to go behind my purchases. I still feel that the most effective and easiest thing I can do is learn to need less and consume less.