Circular Design and its applications in the Electric Guitar Industry : Development of a Circular Business Model System

University essay from Luleå tekniska universitet/Institutionen för ekonomi, teknik, konst och samhälle

Abstract: Our society is all the more shifting towards focusing on the impact that we have on the world’s climate and reducing our environmental impact is getting increasingly popular. Amongst efforts to reduce the impact of the products that we use, the field of Circular Design has emerged as a solution that tackles the problem at its roots in a holistic way, aiming to not only reduce the climate impact of products, but to transition our entire society into a sustainable one through the implementation of a Circular Economy. This ideal economic state is structured around ensuring that products are not simply produced, used and then discarded, but instead that the value of products are never lost. This is done by circulating them in different stages, ensuring that they are reused by other people, refurbished to a good condition, remanufactured as a new product, or that their materials are recycled and used in other products. This holistic approach currently seems to be the most viable for transitioning our society into one structured around sustainability.   In the midst of the increasing interest in sustainability, companies are starting the move towards implementing changes with this in mind. In the electric guitar industry, .strandberg' stands out as one of the more well-known brands that is doing just that, by introducing product design changes to their electric guitars with the goal of reducing material waste and moving away from materials that are becoming scarce in the world. This can be seen as a first step towards changing the entire industry, that is currently focusing mostly on constantly manufacturing new products, to one that focuses on the value of existing products and how to maintain this for as long as possible. The electric guitar as a product is one that commonly sees several users during its lifetime already, and those with high degrees of quality and performance, such as .strandberg'’s products, can potentially be used and kept in a functional state indefinitely. As such, introducing Circular Design to this product category stands as a challenge.   During the course of this thesis project, the process of Design Thinking and the skillset of an Industrial Design Engineer has been used to take on this challenge of Circular Design applied to the electric guitar. Current circular products have been analyzed to find success factors, inspiration and knowledge of the implications that Circular Design has on product development. The work included a comprehensive literature review of the field to take part of the existing academic knowledge, contextual and user research to understand the current situation as well as the needs of the relevant user group, idea generation to find innovative solutions, visual prototyping of concepts and the use of evaluative methods to understand how well the solutions would work.   The final results of the project ended up being more theoretical than anticipated, as it was found that .strandberg'’s products in their design already fit many of the criteria for circular products. Instead, a circular business model system (CBMS) was developed, that details a process wherein .strandberg'’s newly produced as well as existing products can circulate through a sequence of users, while also incentivizing these users to take care of their products and ensure that their functional service life is maximized. The CBMS stands as a broader value offering to both .strandberg' as a company and to the users of their products.   Recommendations for future work with the CBMS includes testing alternative material choices with physical prototypes, launching the model at a small scale to investigate its validity and work out eventual problems as well as to build partnerships with actors, either on a small but potentially on a global scale, to be able to implement aspects of the CBMS. 

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