The Light Bulb Conspirancy: Planned Obsolescence.

“The light bulb conspiracy” is one of those documentaries which not leave you indifferent; it hits a nerve and develops a critical spirit on you.

ligh bulb conspirancy

It discusses the issue of planned obsolescence, that is to say the scheduled reduction of the useful life of some products to increase their consumption. The documentary begins with the example of a printer and discovering the real reason why it has stopped working. Then, it starts by explaining the origins of this plan, which lies in the creation of a cartel (Phoebus). This cartel consisted in changing the light bulbs’ manufacturing patents with the aim to last only 1000 hours. And up to cases such as cars, nylons and latest products-generation such as iPods (with a battery of only 18 months for the purpose you have to buy a new appliance when finished). It was between the decades of 1920-1930 that the following idea emerged: An item which did not break down was a tragedy for businesses and for their employers. So since then, the fact that there is the need to create fragile products or with a limited lifetime has been promoted. Therefore, sales and profitability remain constant, thus the global economy can keep going. The businesses defend themselves saying that the consumers are free to buy whatever they want. Let us not fool ourselves; nowadays advertising and fashion have a lot of influence in our consumer society.


The film fulfils its goal, to make you think about consumerism in a society of constant growth. Where there is this cycle of constant acceleration of production, consumption and waste. It makes you consider the fact that if we carry on with this model a day when we run out of resources will come. So, additionally, we should take into account that “there is an infinite progress head in a finite planet.” One important consequence to keep in mind is that with greater consumption comes higher waste. The documentary wisely shows us that a large amount of waste end up in Ghana, Africa. They enter the products with the label of second-hand ones. There, they try to repair and use the again, but mostly they end up in landfills increasingly full.

Finally, the film gives a few examples and an interesting proposal: That is essential to create more laws to ensure that companies eliminate their products in an environmentally friendly way. I totally agree with it and we should start finding ways and alternatives to reconsider this existing planned obsolescence and rethinking the values of our present society and economy.
I believe it is a complicated issue, but today there are already moves up against this planned obsolescence. Should we need to start asking ourselves these challenges and promote them? Of course, yes. We need to try changing and overcoming the barrier that one day Gandhi said:ghandi

The Light Bulb Conspirancy: Planned Obsolescence.

Eureka! Perfomativity and Architecture

I wanted to write this post for a few days but until now I hadn’t found the time nor the inspiration. The idea came in TECH 637 class of last week, when our teacher was talking about the presentation of online and offline self, the embodiment and the way interaction with other people help to create our self. I understood the implication of the self-presentation on online sites, but in that moment I was thinking all the time as if it was a philosophy class. Then, we had to try to relate these concepts with our area of interest. At that moment, my mind couldn’t stop thinking! Architecture, design, the self, sociology, people interaction, spaces…eureka

The concept of performativity was the link to my ideas. It is a term often used to name the capacity to construct and perform an identity through speech, gestures, acts… And eureka! Architecture can be somehow related with performativity. Architects really want to create his own design style and be acknowledged about it. But, they can do it without others, the society, people who are going to use, live in their buildings. They have to interact! The build environment, the designed spaces and the activities of people are related and inseparable. Architects needs to design and create spaces to fulfil the needs of people and their social requirements. Architecture cannot live without people and have to express the structure and principles of the society.masdar

Another way to understanding this, and to finish my post, is quoting Philip Johnson who was a great American architect: “All architecture is shelter, all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space.”


Eureka! Perfomativity and Architecture