Kasey Hou is a designer with backgrounds in math, economics and business who has designed a repairable flat pack toaster that can be assembled and repaired by its users. The toaster demonstrates the feasibility of DIY assemblable and repairable consumer products. The aim of the project is to challenge the way products are designed and manufactured in general. Kasey will be at RCG on the 25th of August conducting market research so join us to hear more innovative project and share your ideas with the designer. We spoke to Kasey about her design and how that relates to repair and waste:
When did you become interested in coming up with solutions to the problem of waste and why?
It was in my second year of study in product design master’s degree. I was exploring different environmental and social issues and E-waste really got my attention. The only solution we have is recycling but the recycling rate is very low (less than 20%) and it feels that the government, corporations or a society as whole are not really focusing on this issue to solve it. We are still encouraged to throw away things and consume more. There aren’t systems or policies to solve this issue and there isn’t even enough awareness yet. The scale of E-waste problem is huge and I don’t think there’s a single solution to it. My thought was to come up with a possible solution and to raise more awareness on this issue.
2. You talk about challenging the fear that people have of repair – why is that an important part of what you want to achieve with this product?
I think it’s more of challenging how products are designed not to be repairable and therefore people are not encouraged to repair. I understand that people have fears and what I want to do is to make repair as simple and safe as possible so they could feel more comfortable to try to repair things. It can be fun and fulfilling to repair things but it’s absolutely okay if they still fear it and want to ask someone else to do it. Rather than challenging the fear, it’s making the concept of repair more familiar to people.
3. What made you want to design a toaster and not another sort of household appliance?
One of the goals is to raise the awareness so it’s best if I can implement something that people are familiar with and use it everyday. Toaster would be the best option because they are kitchen essentials and close to 70% of the households have a toaster. It’s small and the mechanism is relatively simple so it’s a also great appliance to begin the journey of repair with.
4. If you go on to develop and sell the toaster, will there be individual parts available for people to buy from the business?
Yes, definitely. I understand that most of the time appliances can’t be repaired are either because the structure does not allow it or there aren’t replacement parts available. Therefore, it’s important to have individual parts available for people to purchase and replace.
5. If people want to find out more about your product – where should they look?
Right now there isn’t an official business website yet so the only place people can look is my personal website: www.kaseyhou.com. People can also contact me directly. Once the product website is launched, I will make sure to announce it.