Type Photography, Research Year 2014—2018, Istanbul—Helsinki
Repair Society travels to different cities and contemplates over the question: What would society look like if a central role was assigned to “repair”? Project functions as an archive that collects stories, statements, ideas, and artifacts from people interested in or occupied with any kind of repair work. My first encounter with Repair Society was in its debut at the 2nd Istanbul Design Biennial, and my contribution ended up being a photography project focusing on repair stories and repair tools.
Within this extent, I had long conversations with my family members of different generations about their repair skills and tools they make use of. These conversations were aimed at finding out how do they perceive repairing and how is repair part of their daily life or their occupation. Repair Society believes that “the act of repair has cultural, social, economical effects and benefits. Repairing is about the constant struggle to make things work. In fact, repairing is a way to go forward; it bridges old and new, past and future, and could therefore be seen as a sensitive way of thinking about future forms of society”.
Several years after, this research still remains valuable to me, and I continue to collect stories and photographs. As a designer, especially coming from an Industrial Design background, I intend to position my role outside mass production and consumerist culture. This project makes me think of the possibility of repair as a part of the product designer’s role instead of an unsustainable practice based on constant production.
During the conversations with my grandmothers, we talked about their practice of mending clothes, how these skill used to transfer from mother to daughter, and how today people, including themselves, prefer buying new clothes over repairing. With my father, we discussed repair of household appliances and why products today are purposefully made to have shorter life spans. My uncle discussed, through his interest in repairing classic cars, how can repair become a joy in people’s life.
The research continued after I moved from Istanbul to Helsinki, where my awareness towards the matters of consumerism, waste, and sustainability gained more strength. I continue to collect stories within repair events I attend organized by the TrashLab community. These events act as social occasions to gather and repair broken things, while meeting others who care about fixing, hacking, upcycling and the problem of waste and obsolescence in society.