What is emotionally durable design and why it matters when buying a belt

What is emotionally durable design and why it matters when buying a belt

What is Durable Design?

Before we can define emotionally durable design we have to first talk about durable design. When we think of durable design we tend to think of the classic and literal definition which looks something like the following

Durable design is a design approach that seeks to create products that are long-lasting, maintain their functionality over time, and can be repaired or refurbished rather than being disposed of and replaced when they break or become outdated. This approach is increasingly being adopted in response to concerns about the environmental impact of consumerism and the growing amount of waste generated by disposable products. Durable design can be applied to a wide range of products, including electronics, furniture, clothing, and other household items. It often involves using high-quality materials, designing for ease of repair, and incorporating features that extend the product's lifespan.

This misses out on a critical aspect of durability which relates to the human who buys and owns the objects instead of the object itself. 

Enter emotionally durable design.

Emotionally Durable Design

Emotionally durable design is a design approach that aims to create products that have a strong emotional connection with their users and are able to withstand the test of time. This approach recognises that people often have a strong emotional attachment to their possessions, and that this attachment can be a key factor in whether or not they continue to use and value a product. In order to create emotionally durable products, designers may focus on creating a sense of nostalgia or sentimental value, incorporating personalised elements, and designing products that are aesthetically pleasing. Emotionally durable products are often designed to be long-lasting and maintain their functionality over time, similar to the concept of durable design but they respond to that fact that even a product that lasts a thousand years will be unused or discarded if the person who owns it no longer wants it.

When we set about to create the YOKU men's belt we took inspiration from icons of fashion that had stood the test of time. None more so than Oliver Goldsmith's 'Manhattan' sunglasses popularised by the film Breakfast at Tiffany's.


The key aspects of emotionally durable design

Appropedia (Sustainability Wikipedia) has a comprehensive article here if you'd like to read in more detail but in the context of YOKU we look to the 6 steps Dr Chapman outlined in his talk to the House of Lords in 2008 regarding emotionally durable design

  • Design for Narrative: users share a unique personal history with the product; this often relates to when, how and from whom the object was acquired
  • Design for Detachment: users feel no emotional connection to the product, have low expectations and thus perceive it in a favourable way due to a lack of emotional demand or expectation
  • Design for Surface: the product is physically ageing well, and developing a tangible character through time, use and sometimes misuse
  • Design for Attachment: users feel a strong emotional connection to the product, due to the service it provides, the information it contains and the meaning it conveys
  • Design for Fiction: users are delighted or even enchanted by the product as it is not yet fully understood or know by the user; these are often recently purchased products that are still being explored and discovered by the user
  • Design for Consciousness: the product is perceived as autonomous and in possession of its own free will; it is quirky, often temperamental and interaction is an acquired skill that can be fully acquired only with practice

Emotionally Durable Design and YOKU

Whilst we're not sure if a YOKU belt is going to end up in a timeless movie anytime soon we are absolutely committed to creating emotional durability in our design choices, specifically in 3 years

Design for Narrative

A YOKU belt, designed to be worn every day with just about anything you want from casual jeans to work wear to going out to a formal suit becomes a part of how you get dressed each day and every experience you have, your YOKU belt will be there with you. We can't write the stories but we can be the belt you put on each day as you write them

Design for Surface

We have made very deliberate material and construction choices in a YOKU men's belt so that the belt ages beautifully. Metals that are merely brushed or polished rather than coated or otherwise treated will develop character as they age. Our decision to use full grain leather not only means the belt lasts a long time but the leather takes on the oils and develops a patina making your YOKU belt your own. After a short while you'd be able to pick your own belt out from a stack of otherwise identical YOKU belts and any nicks or marks merely a reflection of your life experiences.

Design for Fiction

A YOKU men's belt is unassuming. It looks like a fairly normal (albeit beautifully designed) belt. It hides inner secrets that makes it a simply better belt day to day.  One of these is the one we talk about, that it can be interchanged for a different belt strap without any moving parts in a mechanism that can best be described as magical, but there are others too which you'll have to wear the belt each day to discover


Final Thoughts

We always wanted to ensure a durable design of our YOKU men's belt. Through conversations with countless men did we learn that their emotional attachment to the belt was equally important as the physically durability of the design.  


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YOKU is kind of magical