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 Thesis  Project :: Mobile.seed      
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Thesis Paper


Everybody understands that mobile phones are changing our lives, but few people are aware of how technological devices change our environment.

The mobile phone is a modern technological fetish and is quite an icon of the modern technologies in our daily life. So, it is an excellent product to use as a channel for experimentations in consumers behaviors by design influence.

Mobile.seed is a communication of a future scenario where objects could motivate users to engage in an ecological ideology without need to renounce to the consumer’s society acquired benefits. It is a redesign of the end-of-life of a mobile phone and an exploration on the possible changes in the relationship between the consumer and the device.


Video scenarios

"new eyes"
 Mov (aprox. 18 Mb)


"from dust to dust"
 Mov (aprox. 3,5 Mb)








“If the more general role of design is to make the world more habitable, a way of doing it is, in my opinion, that of proposing a new criteria of quality, which would have the garden, and the care which it requires, as a metaphor of reference. A new criteria of quality which would bring to a system of objects variety, complexity, life, garden, and that, at the same time, would be a product of the current world: a world so extensively and intensively artificialised. It seems simple. In reality, following this proposal implies an overturning of the way design has traditionally oriented itself towards its products. It implies an inversion of tendencies in the relationship between subjects and objects. It implies a new ecological sensibility: taking care of objects can be a way of taking care of that much larger “object” which is our planet." Ezio Manzini














“For thirty years scientists, think-tanks and global summits have produced a stream of such ghastly projections that many people have been de-motivated by deep eco-gloom. As a business or social issue, the environment seems to be all pain and no gain. The ‘eco problem’ leaves us with guilt, denial, despair - or a combination of all three." John Thackara




More than half (65%) of the discarded mobile phones are kept at home in drawers.



:: intro
Mobile.seed is at the same time a project in which the social responsibility of the designer is practiced, and a marketing strategy to sell a product that would be ecologically sustainable, but uses the motivations present in the consumer society as the main stimulus. Behind an innocent façade (a flower) conceals an elaborated manipulation mechanics (spread out of an ideology).

In the following pages the Mobile.seed idea is explained in detail.
The content is organized in key questions and direct answers, grouped in:

- What is the idea?
- Why this solution?
- How it could become real?

There are also specific pages for the video scenarios and for the prototypes made.


The Mobile.Seed has a visible seed inside.

Communicating this scenario effectively can steer current decision-makers toward the concept of personal recycling where people themselves perform the act of recycling in his home, making an otherwise hidden process delightful and present and perhaps valued as a cultural and social phenomenon. It is not about being politically correct; it is about showing an understanding that wellbeing and respect to nature are really important issues for us and for future generations.

There are mainly three different kinds of influence over decisions in this area: The first is the increase of consumer demand for technological objects that respect environmental concerns. The second are the companies, which by their own initiative or external pressure develop new solutions that rethink products paradigms as a whole, or reduce usage of materials, reusability of devices and recyclability of waste. The third is governmental laws. Bringing the responsibility of recycling to daily life as a pleasant action can raise the consumer demand for this kind of solutions and the awareness of the consequences of one’s own consumption. Also, changes in the consumer criteria can reflect in the companies’ research and in the governmental regulation.

One can just plant the phone as an alternative discard method.


:: what motivated this project
There are three main issues that motivated this project:

1. A personal criticism on the radical approach of several environmentalists that simply blame politics, industries, products and consumers for the consequences on our world, but often disregard the interconnected economical, motivational and social reasons that constitute our current scenario..

2. Overall low interest in getting people to engage in the ideology of common well-being. I see this in part as a consequence of a poor communication strategy, not really working on the motivational reasons of the process.

3. Real facts and concrete problems related to e-waste that we face nowadays. This project will constrain it focus on the mobile phone, which have a very toxic waste and high material requirements for the manufacture.



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