With user-centred circular design, products and services can be adapted so that users more easily can circulate resources in a circular economy.
In a circular economy, products and resources need to circulate between users and use occasions. Product users, both private consumers and business-to-business customers, need to take part in the circulation in various ways. There are, with other words, different ways to consume circularly. When users are in need of products, they can choose to rent or borrow instead of buying new, or to buy second-hand. When users are not using their products, they can ensure that someone else benefits from them, either by temporarily renting out or lending them or by selling or donating them. In this way, users can contribute to the circulation of products and the resources within them.
Today, circular consumption is often troublesome. When users are in need of something, it is often more complicated to understand rental agreements and more time consuming to find a suitable product to reuse than it would be to buy a new one. When products no longer are used, it can be difficult to both sell and donate them. All of this contributes to the fact that linear consumption still dominates. With user-centred methods and strategies for circular design, we can instead create products and services that contribute to the competitiveness of circular offerings. For example, it can be easier to find products that fit they have a flexible and adaptable design. It may feel safer to pass on technical products if private information easily can be deleted. In addition, circular consumption can be more fun and more meaningful if pre-used products communicate their history.
At RISE, we can contribute with expertise in designing attractive circular products and services. To do that, we use strategies for user-centred circular design. Examples of design strategies are to make product easy to transport between users, to create functions that make it possible to reset products when they are to be resold, and to facilitate for users to emotionally detach from favourite products that are no longer used. We can also explore users’ challenges in relation to different types of products or services and use that knowledge as a basis for new circular solutions. With our user-centred approach, we can contribute to circular offerings that are more attractive than linear offerings and thus accelerate the transition to a circular economy.