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Design for the Real Lifespan: Comparing Two Twentieth-Century Strategies for Social and Economic Sustainability through Life-Cycle Planning

Oropallo, Gabriele;


This paper compares the treatment of duration in two episodes of twentieth-century design history: the emergence of planned obsolescence in the wake of the 1929 financial crisis, and of appropriate technology during the post-WWII decolonization process. These experiences ultimately propose diverging approaches to manufacturing: the former is resource-intensive, and the latter labour-intensive. Yet, they share a common departure point, i.e. the belief in planning policies as the ideal way to administrate scarce resources. Both positions propose to set limits to technology and design in terms of output and product longevity. In this they both are preoccupied with keeping the life cycle of the products of design predictable, manageable, and as a result sustainable from the social and economic perspectives.


Palavras-chave: durability, planned obsolescence, appropriate technology, economic transitions, labour,


DOI: 10.5151/despro-icdhs2014-0076

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Como citar:

Oropallo, Gabriele; "Design for the Real Lifespan: Comparing Two Twentieth-Century Strategies for Social and Economic Sustainability through Life-Cycle Planning", p. 531-536 . In: Tradition, Transition, Tragectories: major or minor influences? [=ICDHS 2014 - 9th Conference of the International Committee for Design History and Design Studies]. São Paulo: Blucher, 2014.
ISSN 2318-6968, DOI 10.5151/despro-icdhs2014-0076

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