L’Increvable (“imperishable”) is a concept washing machine that counters the tendency of objects to break down in order to be replaced. Already praised by the media, this industrial design project still has a long way to go before materializing.
A washing machine designed to be with you for at least 50 years? It’s a sexy idea. Assembled as a kit, L’Increvable can also be disassembled with a screwdriver. As an alternative to the usual heavy concrete, an innovative water ballast system makes it lighter to transport. And its firmware can be updated by connecting it to a computer.
In short, it’s the deadly weapon against the programmed obsolescence that sends most washing machines to the home-appliance cemetery after an average of 10 years. The only catch? This washing machine doesn’t yet exist.
Its designer, Julien Phedyaeff, imagined it after graduating from the industrial design school ENSCI in 2014. His project was scouted by the Agency for the Promotion of Industrial Creation. Since joined by product designer Christopher Santerre, Julien wants them to become agents of market disruption by offering ethical and sustainable solutions—beginning with L’Increvable.
An intern at the time, Christopher was taken aback by this remark by a designer: “As soon as the product ends up in the hands of the user, we’ve fulfilled our contract. Afterwards, whether it lasts or not, that isn’t our problem.” Well aware of programmed obsolescence as a consumer, this was the first time Christopher was experiencing it as an active player in the industry. “I believe that the responsibility of the designer goes beyond simply seducing consumers into buying the product,” says Julien.
In terms of funding, the young designers didn’t begin with the usual crowdfunding. Even before they have a working prototype, L’Increvable has already benefited from wide exposure, touted as an exemplary solution to programmed obsolescence. But the two designers don’t want the machine’s virtual life to overshadow the project’s real objectives. L’Increvable integrates innovations that will need to be proven in the engineering field. Julien and Christopher estimate the cost of building an industrial prototype at 100,000 euros.
Their website announces that they will acquire the seed fund by December. Christopher adjusts the timeline: “We have serious leads that could help us reach at least half our target by the end of the year.” Their path is still full of pitfalls, as L’Increvable was nominated for the James Dyson Award 2014, but didn’t win the prize. As good sports, they laugh: “James, you always have our e-mail!”
The designers have decided to integrate the most sustainable business plan into their prototype design: “The idea is to reduce our fixed capital requirements—in other words, the production lines needed to manufacture the machine.” So they reconsidered the architectural phases of a traditional machine, exploring other construction techniques besides stamped sheet metal. Finally, “one of the project’s key points is the assembly. It has to be done without heavy tools, so as to save on resources there too.”
A crowdfunding campaign is scheduled for 2017 to fund production. But as far as the amount targeted, “Without a prototype, we’re not in a position to evaluate the cost of a first series of Increvables.”
L’Increvable presentation video:
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