Creating products has great responsibility involved. Papanek (1984), Thackara (2005), and Manzini (2006) warned about the risks of the design activity, as well as the consequences of bringing products to the world (Fiore, 2018). Products create consequences: direct and indirect, intended and unintended.
Systemic design at the product scale is a dialogue between facts and concerns: navigation of multiple overlapping and interconnected systems, most often undertaken with incomplete information, awareness, and understanding.
With the premises of the related focus, products are systemic objects; this workshop intends to investigate new unexplored scenarios regarding food preservation. It treats the topic with a systemic design approach to understand the strengths, possible unintended consequences, rebound effects, and trace the boundaries of new systems. Considering the current ‘refrigerator object’, i.e., the appliance in charge of food preservation, during the workshop, participants will explore how this is closely linked to many household dynamics, including food waste (O’Neill et al., 2022). It results in a system that can be observed at different levels of detail (Tamborrini and Fiore, 2020). Sometimes objects designed with a function can lead to the opposite. For example, fridges and freezers, typically designed to preserve food, ‘very often operate as coffins of decay that play an active part in carrying discarded food towards the waste stream’ (Evans, 2012, p. 1132). This workshop combines the systemic design approach and “alternative nows” as design methods for investigating alternative scenarios such as the distributed refrigerator, the inside/outside refrigerator, the social refrigerator, and the locked refrigerator. The activity is structured as a focus group with researchers, designers, and non-designers that ended with a systemic design sprint on food preservation related to one of the four scenarios presented.
Keywords: alternative nows, food preservation, refrigerator, fridge