Planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence (from lat. obsolescere, becoming obsolete, passing out of use, becoming outdated or outmoded) in industrial design is a policy of planning or designing a product with an artificially limited useful life, so it will become obsolete, that is, unfashionable or no longer functional after a certain period of time. The rationale behind the strategy is to generate short-term sales volume by reducing the time between repeat purchases (referred to as “shortening the replacement cycle”).
This greatly influences our consumer behavior and the associated negative impacts in terms of resource consumption, disposal effort and costs for consumers. Various initiatives exhibit the phenomenon and thus create pressure on the manufacturers like the multi-award winning documentary The Lightbulb Conspiracy by Cosima Dannoritzer or the consumer platform MURKS? NO THANKS! where personal experiences and examples of planned obsolescence may be reported.
Long service life, maintainability, availability of spare parts and the like have not only been naturally but bore witness to high-quality and brand characteristics of products in the past. Design for Sustainability holds against the alarming trend of planned obsolescence and there are numerous methods and tools that are applicable to the product development process of companies.
The SInnDesign project aimed at developing of training materials and tools for the systematic integration of sustainability considerations (environmental, social and economic) in the design process of furniture, textiles for the habitat and building materials, leading to innovative and competitive solutions in the three sectors. With SInnDesign planned obsolescence has no chance.