Product Autopsy Sessions: Dissecting is learning

Product Autopsy Sessions: Dissecting is learning

As designers, we like nothing more than to stay on top of the latest techniques. We keep ourselves sharp by, among other things, watching how cutting-edge technologies are applied in order to solve design problems. During our reflexive Product Autopsy Sessions, we dissect ‘deceased’ products. The goal is to get inspiration and to use the knowledge that arises from this process to bring future innovations to life.

July 4, 2016

See for yourself

The origin of the Greek word ‘autopsy’ means ‘seeing with your own eyes’ – and that is exactly what we have in mind during these sessions, during which digital cameras, night vision devices, printers, and laptops are carefully taken apart. 

Repairability & Sustainability

Sustainability has a strong influence on the design process and therefore plays an important role for Spark and our clients. The extent to which a product can be repaired, influences the degree of sustainability, and so we devote extra attention to the repairability of products in these sessions.

Engineer Bas Flipsen MSc. from iFixit: “Frequently, products are not repaired because it is more expensive and more complicated than buying a new product; as a result, they’re tossed onto the rubbish heap. The consequence of this is that the repairability of a product is less important for designers and that is bad news for society. If you design a product that is easy to repair, then you increase the sustainability.”

With Bas’s words in the back of our minds, we went in search of remarkably clever and also remarkably inconvenient solutions in order to judge the repairability of products.  Charlot: “The printer defect turned out to be a classic, with the lid and the casing getting stuck together, so the paper couldn’t get into the printer. Because the printer was put together in such a complicated way, it wasn’t easy to diagnose or solve this problem.”

Surgical precision 

Having systematically deconstructed everything, recording it on photo and video, we present our findings. We end with a small challenge:  (try to) put the products back together, and see if they come back to life. Spark client and vascular surgeon Mark Vrancken Peeters worked with us on this latest Product Autopsy and summed up the session perfectly: “I am used to an entirely different kind of autopsy! I noticed that it is much easier to take things apart than to put them back together.”