Track 4.5. Consumers’ Care and Maintenance Practices


Track 4.5. Consumers’ Care and Maintenance Practices

Session owner:
Prof Minna Autio, Helsinki University, Finland

Care and maintenance practices are often the critical ones, which affects  a product lifetime by extending or shortening it. When products are cheap and easy to dispose of, they are not worthwhile to take good care of. Very often consumers don’t even recognize materials from which products are made of, or they don’t even check the care instructions while purchasing the product.

On the other hand, some consumers invest time and effort to take good care of the products their own. Moreover, mending and repair practices provide deep learnings of materials, products and their constructions, product quality and product lifetimes. Through dual approach, knowing and doing, menders/fixers/repairers are reaching deep learnings from their products. These people are creating special skills, special knowledge and special a relationship with the product they are taking good care off and perhaps even invest time to correct it, when it is broken.

As Durrani (2021) explains, menders, who are practising mending “become able to form an alliance with their practice, ultimately converting mending into an object of passion” and through this approach and activity mending practices affect menders’ taste. In some cases menders even use repairing as a visual element to create new decoration or visual look at the product. Kintsugi tradition from Japan presents extreme visible repair technique where gold is used to repair broken ceramic items but the use of gold is also as an artistic statement highlighting the broken product and its beauty of imperfection (Loads, 2019).

This session seeks contributions that investigate how consumers’ care and maintenance practices  have changed, how these practices can influence on product lifetimes and on consumers’ ‘understanding’ on products and materials. Can maintenance practices change our material and product appreciation? Can maintenance practices increase the value we see in a product and can repair practices change our taste from valuing new towards valuing patina and time in the products?