If you aren’t familiar with speculative design, please read this article before you start with Die.Up. 


What if people won’t own a thing they don’t use frequently? What if the moral compass of the society shifts to radical circularity and ownership becomes obsolete? What if you are growing up in a world where any item has an expiration date? 

The scenario 

The year 2050: Radical circularity systems are state of the art. With a credit system, we lend products from providers for a given time until they “Die.Up” or go to another consumer for re-use. “Die.Up” describes the process of any product, which is never completely owned but part of a bigger resource use cycle.  

While nowadays companies focus on the buyer and owner user experience, this scenario highlights the end of a product lifecycle – eliminating the keep or waste components. This scenario asks: How exactly do we want to design the process of taking a product back? Not so much from a technological aspect but from a very humane view. What does it mean, when I need to “bury” my couch after good use of 2 years? What sacrifices would people face in a future, where circularity dominates the world? What kind of emotional and behavioral change do I need to keep in mind as a product designer and how can I assist people through that? 

This speculative design case consists of one website, various graphics/renderings/animations, three fictional personas represented in audio-visual content. 

A farewell to our possessions 

Imagine a world where usage trumps possession, where you love and use any item but don’t own it. Our first video shows how the virtual usage clock is ticking towards the “Die.Up”. The planned expiration is inherent which questions the relation between user and product as well as between producer and customer. 

Attachment to earthly possessions is questioned in a radical circularity. We must emotionally prepare for the “Die.Up” of our everyday items. So, will phygital tools help us to change our attitude towards objects and alter our behavior? 
What would you feel when the timer of your chair or library reaches its deadline? 

I don’t want to let go! 

When the “Die.Up” design was presented to our colleagues, their first expression was “I don’t want to let go!” They showed immediate stress reactions as well as the urge to prolong items. Although we all incorporated sustainable design principles, recycle and re-use everyday items, being accustomed to circular ideas doesn’t overhaul your emotional affection for stuff you own.  

While the discussion oscillated between possession and the supposed opposite deprivation, we realized as a team that radical circularity is not just a rational but also an emotional matter. Or even wider: Circularity has a psychological momentum. 
We know from psychology that “ownership” prevails efficacy, self-identity, and belonging. But how do we address these in a circular world? How can design nudge people to perceive items with an expiration date not as deprivation? How can we solve the emotional challenge of dispossession? 

We do not have the answers yet, but we are happy to discuss possible solutions with you on April 6th, 2022, in Hamburg together with our friends from designxport and Professor Dr. Anke Haarmann. More information about the event coming soon! 

We are glad you’re here. Now let’s take things to the next level