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Sustainable Design for Homework
Sustainable Design for Homework is a concept by Demotech to design new sustainable technology that is appropriate for Homework, in particular with aim to move from industrial homework to 'independent' or 'own account' homework. It sugests a socio-economic structure whereby designers of new technology can earn a living creating new and empowering designs for homeworkers around the world.
Elements of Empowering Designs
see Demotech for more information on Empowering Design.
Technology which is designed for the empowerment of home workers should have several qualities which make it more appropriate to be built by homeworkers than in industrial processes. Some of these qualities are:
- Based on a continuous further refined design process, truly innovative, not trying to copy the present common industrial shape. The design process is guided by a thorough knowledge of what the participants in the process of making see as cost. Such participants may be kids who like to participate for learning or fun or old people who like to join for short periods. This creates different realities around the idea 'cost'.
- Built from locally available materials
- standardized parts which are convenient to produce by hand
- Short assembly process, from raw materials to finished product in a few hours
- requires no expensive tools or capital inputs
- Much space for customized construction in size, color, artistic design, height, etc.
- Unique, practical and lifestyle enhancing consumer product, can be stacked to make shelves, put 6 together to make a table, saves space in crowded homes. Generally useful and clever
- Requires a skills set developed in production, leaving it easy to make, but not easy to copy without help from the original producer.
A homeworker will be functioning locally, and will therefore prefer to use local materials. While a factory is limited to materials that it can buy in bulk quantities, a homeworker is free to use anything available locally. Thus, production using bamboo, scrap metal, rough wood, hand woven cloth, local clay or sand, animal parts and other farm waste, and recycled consumer products become options which are not available in industrial processes. Because an industrial product must be made in large quantities, customized products and orders are seldom possible. A homeworker is not held by that constraint, and can produce customized variations of her product, uniquely tailored to purchaser's demands. Functioning in the local market, the homeworker is ideally placed to identify her customer's desires. Such workers, generally called 'independent' or 'own account' workers exist as a small minority of homeworkers in the market today
(Caried over with permission from [|this article] at Demotech).
Most importantly however, is that a design produced for home work should have space for artistic and stylistic alteration, allowing the builder to hone a skill as they produce, allowing for a progressive improvement of product, and thus of the craftswoman, through hard work and dedication. Space to improve and grow is essential to a fulfilling workspace.
By the merit of these advantages, it is possible for home workers to make consumer products which are cheaper and better than factory produced models and earn a comfortable living from them. With the appropriate knowledge and set of skills, a homeworker can be the owner of her own business, or contribute autonomously to a collective or small company as the owner of her own materials and skills. By designing these products, a designer can facilitate the transition from Industrial home work, to independent home work.
A designer of such technology, is essentially involved in a process of product design. However, rather than being hired by industry to produce designs for industrial production, a home work designer need find a source of income among poor homeworkers.
Demotech suggests that, considering that all that is needed for such design is a workshop space, some materials and a clever mind, it is possible for a designer of technology for home work could make a living creating designs and teaching them to homeworkers in the local area. Principally, with a sufficient information network, a designer could formulate a complete design, as described above, and charge a fee to teach groups of home-workers in the area how to produce the design for sale. If the designer traveled to many population centres, teaching people who would produce for different markets, he could make a healthy living selling design packages.
In this way, a network of designers and home workers could be formed to compete with industrial production of some basic lifestyle products. This development could shift home workers from an industrial setting, fraught with exploitation, to an independent and autonomous group who owned their products, and had incentives to buy new, innovative design ideas from a designer.
Examples of designs that may be appropriate for Homework
- Night Reader
- Bathroom Toilet Unit
- Storage Stools (see http://www.demotech.org/d-design/designA.html?d=32)
- See Demotech for more ideas on homework.