The Long Gift Project
Gift-giving is a necessary social practice. Acts of giving express acknowledgement, friendship, celebration, reconciliation and love; and are, whether perceived to be or not, both a product and producer of social obligation. The necessity to give, however, often results in unwanted and short-lived products that ultimately end up in landfill. This environmentally unsustainable outcome undermines the expressive intent and sociality of gifting, and sets in motion a gradual degradation of the qualitative and obligatory dimensions of gift-giving.
Aimed at increasing the gift product life-span, the project takes the form of a digital service system. Developed through the generation of scenarios, a taxonomy of gifts and gifting relationships is constructed and used to map the complexities of gifting. Through this emerges the need for access to reliable information on the durability, repairability, and functional longevity of gift products.
Quick and dirty service prototyping, user evaluations, interviews and input from experts are deployed to design an information tool that assists consumers in making more informed decisions when purchasing gifts. System data to support the tool draws on the appreciative capacities of a community of designers. As sustainability advocates, this community provides expert and independent appraisals of the relative merits of gift-products in ways that are appropriate for consumers.
The Long Gift Project contributes a strategy for designers to assist consumers in reducing the negative impacts that their gift-giving has on the environment, while maintaining the social benefits of gifting.