Since the beginning of industrial mass production, design has played a crucial role in shaping social reality. The influence and significance of design, however, is not restricted to providing mass production with forms; it also touches upon the social context of production. With many products, it is worthwhile to look at and learn about the ideas behind them, the materials and technologies used as well as the production processes themselves in order to understand how much more hides underneath a beautifully designed surface.
The Can-Watch is one of those products that, at first glance, appeals with its distinctive, clear and purist language of form – and at a second glance truly fascinates, because the concept of the Can-Watch impressively combines good product design with sustainability and social engagement. When searching for materials, the designers focused on high-quality residual products with the idea of giving them a new purpose. Thus the aluminium base of ordinary beverage cans form the face of the watch, while the leather strap is made of residual leather scraps left over from sofa and handbag production. These basic materials are carefully treated and then placed in a new context to emerge as an elegant premium design product.
The watches’ sustainability aspect is not restricted to the “up-cycling” of materials – it also extends to the production process itself. Can-Watches are carefully handcrafted, for the most part, in local workshops for the disabled. The aim was to give less privileged people the opportunity to create something with their own hands – something of value for other people – to give them pride in their work. The designers started by developing tools specially tailored to the specific needs of their helpers to make the manufacturing process of the watches as easy for them as possible. In this context, design serves to foster social integration, and the Can-Watch turns into a highly desirable accessory characterised by a high level of sustainability – from an ecological as well as a social viewpoint. Therefore, what users perceive at first glance is only a small part of the whole: “what you see is less than what you get”. This is what makes the Can-Watch stand out as a product with a true added value.
Source: Every Product Tells a Story (Red Dot Edition 2014)
Posted on 24.05.2017