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We’ve always been inspired by the tenacity of Jane, who is the ‘inventor, founder and fixer in Chief’ at Sugru, the mouldable glue company. We interview her about design within the throwaway economy and about the growth of the repair movement. In this episode, you will also hear from Restart Party goers, who share their thoughts on Sugru and discuss the importance of creativity when fixing.
First, Jane tells us about the origin of Sugru. It all started when she was a design student, trying to find alternatives to creating just another ‘sexy new product’ for consumers. Playing with materials in the lab, she describes the time she came up with what would become Sugru: a mouldable glue that helped her fix and hack all kinds of objects. This material is initially like playdough or putty — it can be formed into any shape, but then overnight it turns into a tough, durable silicon rubber.
Jane takes us on a tour around the Sugru HQ in Hackney, East London, where everything from the manufacturing and packaging to the admin or the creative work of the company takes place. (Sugru, or FormFormForm Ltd, was acquired last year by German company Tesa but remains in London, with Jane as Director.)
With Sugru, Jane encourages people to have a go at fixing, and to express their creativity hacking and repurposing what they own. In her very words:
“Making those moments happen for somebody who would say ‘I am not a fixer, I could never do that’ to ‘Maybe I could do that’ and then can fix their shoes or their grandma’s wedding ring… It is all about making those moments happen.”
Next, we discuss how Jane perceives her role within a growing, global repair movement. She explains how different organisations need to cooperate, as there are various parts to play, from inspiring or teaching to campaigning for our right to repair.
The repair culture is both old and new – it was the ‘Make, Do and Mend’ slogan during the WWII, when people repaired due to limited resources, and it is also the more recent frustration with the short lifespan of our products, from our clothes to our smartphones.
With Jane, we embrace repair culture while we emphasise the simultaneous need for system change. This will take time and collective efforts by activists repairing in their communities, companies like Sugru, as well as legislators forcing manufacturers to make products easier to repair.
Lastly, we ask about the importance of “celebrities” for the repair movement. Jane stresses the need to be inspired, and the value of authenticity in people’s stories. “I don’t know what a celebrity means, but we definitely need people to inspire us.”
[Featured image from Sugru]