This paper explores the narrative of peoples' relationships with products as a window on understanding the types of innovation that may inform a culture of sufficiency. The work forms part of the ‘Business as Unusual: Designing Products with Consumers in the Loop’ [BaU] project, funded as part of the UK EPSRC-ESRC RECODE network (RECODE, 2016) that aims to explore the potential of re-distributed manufacturing (RdM) in a context of sustainability. This element of the project employed interviews, mapping and workshops as methods to investigate the relationship between people and products across the product lifecycle. A focus on product longevity and specifically the people-product interactions is captured in conversations around product maintenance and repair. In exploring ideas of ‘broken’ we found different characteristics of, and motivations for, repair. Mapping these and other product-people interactions across the product lifecycle indicated where current activity is, who owns such activity (i.e. organisation or individual) where gaps in interactions occur. These issues were explored further in a workshop which grouped participants to look at products from the perspective of one of four scenarios; each scenario represented either short or long product lifespans and different types of people engagement in the design process. The findings help give shape to new scenarios for designing sufficiency-based social models of material flows.
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