DESIGN-LED REPAIR: Expression of Interest for a special issue (Design and Culture)

Repair.Design Project News, research in process

Designers, repairers, interdisciplinary practitioners and academics are invited to submit contributions relevant to the theme Design-Led Repair


Repair is increasingly recognised as part of design but this connection needs to be underscored by conditions of urgency. The climatic disasters we are currently facing and the ones to come require repair to be at the forefront as a first responder. Product longevity and durability, despite being recognised by design as properties to establish, have not deterred the rampant pace of consumerism. By exploring the agency of repair versus other practices of a circular economy (such as recycling and remanufacturing), this special issue aims to explore the role of design in repair but also how repair is changing the practice and ethos of design. It also aspires to address the significance of aesthetics in relation to the transformation of any product type, by any particular method, into something usable again.

In this context, a design-led repair approach might be driven by the symbolism of waste and what it provokes (Muniesa 2014) in terms of economic, technological, ecological, social, and materials innovation; the responsibility of designers and users to identify in waste the ecological consequences of everyday life; existing cultures of repair involving culturally diverse social, and creative practices of reuse and repair; and mindfully designing what will become waste as well as redirecting or ‘designing out’ waste. In spite of repair’s prevalent interpretation through an Eurocentric and technocentric lens, this approach acknowledges its strong connection to resilience as experienced by First Nations, migrant and eco-communities, and situated, intergenerational knowledges.

The proposed special issue seeks to expand the existing knowledge on design-led repair beyond the manufacturing and legislative milieu to reveal the yet to be identified spaces/communities of repair as lived experience. For this reason, it invites written, practical, and visual investigations of design-led repair as a practice that encompasses the aforementioned values and responds to the pressing need for design to repair its relationship with natural and social environments. Contributions could be: a case study of transformative repair; research into a community initiative redirecting repair practices locally or repairing communities via creative means and strategies; a critical analysis of design-led repair as a practice that redesigns everyday life and vice versa; an exploration of the aesthetic importance of repair; and a theoretical exploration of repair as an intersection between specialist training and lived experience/human practice.

We are interested in contributions that address the following questions:

How do we capture and show repair value? How is repair a practice of value creation or co-creation? How do we demonstrate and share repair value?

How do we bring to the fore the significance of repair aesthetics? And how is this significance connected to the symbolic economy that drives designs and shortens product lifespans?

How can we rediscover repair as a human-scale practice? How can we unveil and amplify already existing repair and/or maintenance practices?

What would design-led repair look like?

What type of waste would we like/not like to design or design with?

How can we un-pacify waste?

What can design-led repair be acknowledged outside a Eurocentric/technocentric scope?

How could culturally diverse repair cultures lead design-led repair?

Contributions for this issue could take one of the following forms:

Design research papers, speculative design papers, visual essays, interviews/conversations,

reflections on/reviews of projects/case studies, a statement of practice.

Expression Of Interest (EOI):

Contributors are invited to express their interest by 8/10/2021 by emailing;

The EOI should include a 250-word abstract, the contributor(s)’ email address, title, affiliation and location. It should also include visual evidence (for visual essays), and a brief statement indicating the connection to the special issue questions. The EOI will be reviewed by the editorial team as the intention for a full draft submission. Guidelines for a full submission will be provided after the completion of the EOI process.

Important deadlines/dates:

  • EOI due: 8/10/2021
  • Contributors notified: 30/10/2021 
  • Full draft for peer review due (late drafts will not be accepted): 1/2/2022
  • Notification of acceptance: March-April 2022
  • Deadline for revised articles: April-May 2022
  • Final articles including permissions and images due: May 2022