The word ‘consumer’ is shrouded in negative connotations. It broadly refers to us all when we purchase a product or service. The idea of the consumer has come to represent a behavioural problem. A general lack of understanding of how things are made, a lack of attentiveness for how we maintain them, and a lack of care about a products life thereafter. To me, the cause of this is relatively straightforward. ‘Consumer’ refers to an individual at the end of the supply chain, with no vested interest in earlier steps. By embedding the consumer into design, manufacturing or logistics, more meaningful bond are created between people and their products. Something that we craft ourselves is intrinsically more valuable to us than something we obtain in exchange for money. Think of a consumer, as a prosumer.
The Pallet Bike is not a bike at all. Its a collection of parts and an instruction guide that allows you to build your own bike from a wood pallet. By following the charming steps set out in the instruction guide, users can craft their own simple bike. Early steps include the exercise of ‘scavenging’ a wood pallet, a common waste material and easily available at no cost. Later steps include cutting wood to size before assembling components using the kit. By turning the consumer into an essential part of the production process, they become a prosumer with a deeper understanding of how the product is made and where it comes from. A more attentive and conscious prosumer replaces the old notion of the consumer.