Centre of Applied Research Technology

Repurpose Driven Design

a practice-based evaluation of design methods for repurposing


Circular economy as a system change is gaining more attention, reusing materials and products is part of this, but an effective method for repurposing seems to be missing.

Repurpose is a strategy which uses a discarded product or its parts in a new product with a different function. Literature on specific design methods for 'repurposing’ is limited and current design methods do not specifically address repurpose driven design. This paper aims to contribute to the literature on repurpose as a circularity strategy by evaluating repurpose driven design processes which are deployed in practice and evaluate to what extend existing design methods are suited for repurpose driven design. Building on a multiple case study two main design approaches are identified. First, a goal-oriented approach in which a client commissions the design studio. Second, a resource-oriented approach in which a discarded product or its components is the starting point of a design process initiated by the designers. Although both approaches follow a more or less standard design process, each intervenes with repurpose specific input at different phases in the design process, depending on the role of the designer. Results show that in order to be able to deal with the inconsistencies of discarded products, specific repurpose-related tools are required for an efficient and effective repurpose driven design process. Future research should address these issues in order to develop comprehensive and practical tools that accommodate the two repurpose driven design approaches.

Reference de Leede, A., Lepelaar, M., Groote Schaarsberg, N., van Vorsselen, J., & Oskam, I. (2021). Repurpose Driven Design: a practice-based evaluation of design methods for repurposing. Paper presented at PLATE-2021, Ireland.
Published by  Centre for Applied Research Technology 26 May 2021

Publication date

May 2021


Annelies de Leede
Mark Lepelaar
Nikki Groote Schaarsberg


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