Preserving objects, preserving memories: repair professionals and object owners on the relation between memories and traces on personal possessions

Delft University of Technology and IOS Press
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
PLATE 2017 Conference Proceedings, 2017, 9 pp. 453 - 457
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Traces of ageing and use on the material of products, and memories associated with products, have been found to contribute to product attachment and can stimulate product longevity. We present findings of a qualitative study that focused on the relation between traces of ageing and use on personal possessions and memories and the effects of repair on objects. With this research, we intended to increase our understanding of the role of traces on personal possessions and memories. We interviewed five professionals at their workplace who worked as a restorer or did repairs of personal possessions, and five owners of a repaired or restored possession. The motivations for bringing an object for repair were not only related to the deteriorating condition of the object but were also triggered by situational events or circumstances, such as passing on ownership or knowing someone who could repair the object. We found five different categories of traces among the possessions of the interviewed object owners: Traces of use, traces of ageing, traces of repair, traces of accidents and alterations. We found that objects gained meaning after the repair. When object owners or repair professionals decided not to repair traces, it was often for aesthetical and reminding reasons, but also because it may be how the owner remembered the object. Traces can cue associations to their use in the past, and also to the (imagined) history of the objects. These findings indicate that repair can enhance the cueing of memories and that preservation of meaningful traces may contribute to attachment.
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