Week 8: “Repair Part 1”

1) Reflect on our trip to Tea Drunk. 

– What was the most inspiring part of the visit?

Personally, the most inspiring part of the visit to Tea Drunk was the way they use the materials, in this case the tea leaves, which such a meticulous way of picking the leaves and the importance and value they give to the quality and source of it. For instance, all the process of making the tea show the customer the importance and care they have for the environment and the source from which they take the tea leaves. As Shunan said, they alter the environment by adding pesticides or other chemicals but they respect the nature and leave it to make its own natural cycle of growing the leaves when it has to grow naturally. Also, to learn the beauty behind such leaves and how much you can get from the environment if you use it in the correct way. In some way, by learning more about how the tea is made and the procedure, is learning where and what we are consuming and start caring more instead of mass consuming without conscious.

– Despite being a new business, which of the Long Life Design criteria do you think Shunan might be able to fulfill over the next 50 years, and why? 

I would say all of them but especially the criteria of the environment as she and her staff are very respectful and aware of the period of time in which the tea leaves can be handpicked. Therefore, this is respecting the natural cycle of the tea trees without making alterations on the plant in order to have all year growings. For instance, this is the opposite of mass production and consumption as it engages invites the consumer to learn more from its source and manufacturing and giving more importance to the quality of it instead of the quantity. Also, because of the strong commitment and belief on the complexity of tea that the owners have, it is shown and transmit to the consumers by the way it is sold and served. You get to see the leaves, the process of adding water, smelling the tea scent, among other things that makes you connect and care more about it instead of just buying a random tea.

– Name several of the specific systems involved in Shunan’s work at Tea Drunk? (think about what kind of geography, tea, history, people in China and New York are essential to her work etc.). 

  • The location of where the tea trees are grown historically in China in order to get authentic tea.
  • Working with heritage farmers of China.
  • handpicked the leaves in order to get the right leaves which survived the winter, and therefore have more complexity.
  • handcraft the tea by respecting the criteria of terroir, varietal and craft.
  • Handcraft the tea using traditional methods.
  • New York sale’s people to serve the customers

– Do you think of Shunan as an artist or a business person?

I would say she is both. First, she has taken the meaning of the tea in an artistic way by putting a meaning and importance on the whole process of making the tea while she eats, sleeps and works alongside with farmers. Also, she is giving a twist on the meaning of tea as now it is so common and mass produced instead of caring for its beauty and natural complexity. On the other hand, she knows how to sell her idea and passion about tea and to care about the tea we consume, because she shows her conviction and fully convinced on what she is doing and selling.

– Do you feel her work is aesthetic?

I think that she has done a good job on the aesthetics of the brand as well as the decoration of the store by bringing the traditional Chinese culture into it. For the name of the brand, I would say its catchy as in America “drunk” have a negative connotation instead of a positive one which is the one used on the brand. Therefore, it makes you wonder the reason of its name and to learn more about the product and brand. I would say that is definitely a hook to the customer.

– Do you feel her work is “sustainable”? Does it also address environmental issues in other ways, perhaps in ways that ancient farming cultures did naturally? What do you think of this?

Yes, I definitely think her work and product is sustainable, and for sure it addresses environmental issues. First, the product is made from a 100% natural material and the process of making it doesn’t pollute nor contaminate the environment. On the other hand, I think it also addresses an environmental problem, which is mass production and consumption, by putting more importance on the quality and process of making the tea rather than just having more quantity without caring about anything. In this way, by giving more importance to the source which is the location and authentic tea trees, the variety of teas and quality of the leaves, and the process of crafting the tea is what makes the consumer consume in a different way rather than not knowing where the product came from and how it was made. I think this is a good initiative and a good example for other industries, not only for food but also for fashion for example, to start giving more importance to the quality and respecting the source instead of having more quantity no matter what in order to get more money.

2) Find an object, device or material that needs to be repaired in some way. Follow the Repair project briefPreview the documentView in a new window (steps 1-3 for this week) and post responses to each question and images on your LP.

  1. What object do you want to repair and why? Do you consider repair to be an important design skill?

I want to repair a plant pot that my cat accidentally broke when she was running around. The reason why I want to repair it is that I like having plants in my room, as it makes me feel less surrounded by concrete and manmade materials. It gives me a hint of nature and of the outside while I am surrounded by walls. Since I was a child, I have been growing up cactus in Ecuador and when I came here I bought 4 cacti which I still have, but 2 of the pots are broken. Moreover, I do consider repair an important design skill that every designer should have. It is not only important to know how to repair it but how to repair it with a design. Therefore, the repair know have another meaning, as it is part of the design rather than having a negative meaning or reason to be.

  1. What are 2-3 possible ways this object could be repaired? What do you need in order to do the repair? Do you have the materials and skills?

It could be repaired by adding superglue into the cracks or putting glue gun and glue it together. Other option, is adding lacquer, which I think is more proper. For instance, what I would need is lacquer and if I want to add a color to the cracks, I would have to buy it additionally, and also a brush in order to add it nicely on the cracks. As I dont have the materials but only the brushes, I would need to buy the lacquer and the correct color that can be mixed with the lacquer.

  1. What will your process of repair be? How long do you expect the repair to take? How long do you want your repair to last?

Taking both pots and putting the cactus on a plastic cup until all the cracks of the pot are dry and finished so that it can hold again the plant. I would say like a week or a week and a half until it dries up but I don’t know for sure as I havent done this before. However, I want that my repair last as long as it can.

3)  Next week we will have kintsugi (gold joinery) artist Gen Saratani as a guest. In preparation, please learn more about his work here (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. and watch the following video on kintsugi. What questions do you have about kintsugi? Lacquer, the base of kintsugi repair, has been used in repair for nearly 1000 years in Japan. Are there similar practices of repair in your home country?  What kinds of systems and human actions do you think enables a process of repair such as kintsugi to be practiced and refined over hundreds of years?

I would like to know what type of lacquer they use to join the pieces together and where can I get it as well as the gold dust, and the synthetic whetstone for sanding down the lacquer. I don’t think there are this practices of repairing in Ecuador because of the superstitious culture it has. It is thought that is you keep a broken object where you live, it will bring bad luck as it is thought that once the object is broken it doesn’t have a function anymore so if you keep it, you are storing things doesn’t work and therefore, your life is filling with negative things. However, by learning other cultures, I have found the beauty and meaning of repairing objects without giving importance to superstition but to sustainability which is an important and true matter.

4) Read the following four articles on repair and answer the following questions.

– At Repair Cafes, ‘Beloved but Broken’ Possessions Find New LifeLinks to an external site. Would you like to visit a repair cafe? Why do you think so many people are interested in repair?

Yes, I would like for sure to visit the a repair Cafe. I think this is a great idea that brings people together and repairs things instead of creating more garbage. I believe this project counteracts one of the main reason why the world is having so many environmental issues which is the amount of garbage we generate each day. But a repair cafes, give another chance and opportunity to things that have been broken, to serve and have a more special meaning afterward.

   – Waste not want not: Sweden to give tax breaks for repairs.Links to an external site. Would you like to see this kind of tax be possible in your home country? Do you think it is possible there or the United States? Why or why not?

Yes, I think this would help much on not generating more garbage but instead reusing what we generate and stop generating more. Also, by adding this tax, people would think more about the culture of superstition it has been introduced and rethink the value of keeping it rather than acquire the culture of repairing and not generating more waste. I think it is more possible for it to happen first in the US as it already has somewhat the culture or at least a knowledge of repairing things. However, it could also be introduced in Ecuador, if the government make campaigns of the impact that generating more garbage has and the importance of reusing and repairing objects.

–  Spend the Money on the Good Boots and Wear the ForeverLinks to an external site.. Were you surprised by this article? Do you agree with the author? Do you think an object has to be expensive to be well made? What might make people want to take care of objects, even if they aren’t expensive?

No, I wasn’t surprised by this article and the idea behind investing in better quality that can last much longer than cheap garments. My father thinks in this way and has always told us this: “is better to buy one or two good shoes instead of buying five that will be disposed of a year or two”. For this reason, when he goes shopping, he doesn’t look for quantity buy for quality and I think this is a good way of thinking that meets sustainability. And because I have been raised with this way of thinking, I totally agree with the author. However, if I  wouldn’t have my fathers role model, I would also consider the statement that quality last longer because I know that the reason why an object is a better and last longer is that of its material and the way it is made. I don’t think an object necessarily needs to be expensive in order to be well made. However, I do think that the quality of the material is what makes an object have a better finish and therefore, a better lasting. I would say that to make people want to care more about their objects even if they didn’t spend much money on it is to know the story behind the objects they are buying or using. For example, hammocks are usually not expensive at all, but I think what would make people care more about it is to know that indigenous people of Ecuador make a living by selling those objects and dedicate all their lives to it. Knowing that every part of the object is the result of effort and time of someone really change the way you see things.

– Origami-inspired clothing line that grows with kids wins Dyson award (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. What do you think of this design? What is most innovative about it? Do you think it’s possible for adults to enjoy long life design clothing or objects that transform/change in other ways (than getting bigger)? What kind of designs might be possible? 

I think this is an incredible and very innovative design. Moreover, the most innovative thing about this is how they counteract the fact that many child clothing is disposed because it wont fit so quickly as kids grew up. The way Rayn Yasin used his engineering studied combining with design is a very clever decision in order to get the right measurement or technique of making clothing that can be grown as the kid is growing also. Also, I think for adults it is possible to enjoy things that can be transform into another, because as adults we want to spent less and save more as we are responsible for ourselves. For example just like the pencil case of Athena, eventually when she stop using it as pencil case, maybe she can store make up on it or anything else instead of buying another case. Also, another way garment can be transform into another is by adding or taking away things like sleeves or collars. In this way, we can make a garment more fashionable depending on the trend.

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