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A group of people sit at a table. A large sheet of paper is laid out on the table. On it is drawn three large circles and the whole thing is split into 6 segments. Each segment represents an aspect of the lifestyle of a product. The product is placed in the centre of the circle.

Segments included (not limited to): Extraction, production, retail, disposal, transportation


In the workshop with Pi studio we used ‘lensing‘ to frame the object in the context of a photo which related to the segment on the paper.

For example:

  • the extraction lens had a picture of a mining machine at a mill
  • the manufacturer lens had a photograph of a row of Chinese factory workers

There were numerous lenses for the same segment but with different photos. When the participant looks through the lens they talk about their observations and notes are made in the segment space on the circle in order to generate a more holistic understanding of the object.

There were often many ‘grey areas’ – things which it was not possible to know – ‘known unknowns’. For example, we don’t know the psychological effect of the factory work on the Chinese workers or we don’t know the material composition of the object just by looking at it.

This book Closed-Loop Supply Chains: New Developments to Improve the Sustainability of Business Practices (Supply Chain Integration Modeling, Optimization and Application) touches on some of the issues that exist in manufacturing practices and how to make them more sustainable.

These books may also be of use when thinking ‘things’:
The Order of Things: Archaeology of the Human Sciences (Routledge Classics)
The Shape of Things: A Philosophy of Design
Alien Phenomenology, or What it’s Like to be a Thing (Posthumanities)