Fifty shades of repairability in Slovak design

This year Repairably in collaboration with the Slovak Center of Design awarded the Prize for Repairable Design for the first time. The Repairably prize formed part of the Slovak National Design Prize in the field of industrial design, which takes place every 2 years.
We have found our winner for the year 2019, but we also found many different inspiring approaches to repairability, that we could not recognize with an award, but would like to share them with you at least this way, in an article.

First, lets present the winner of the Prize for Repairable Design 2019, Pavol Mikuláš, and his design RePello Model 16, a bicycle for children, designed in a way that indeed invites you to disassemble and reassemble it again, which makes it easy to repair. Also, the bicycle is composed of many smaller parts, which makes it even more repairable according to our Manifesto. If we say a component should not cost more than 20% of the Product price, it is because we believe the user decides to repair/ replace a part of the Product only if the part is not too expensive. That goes also back to the size of the components– if there is a large part, it probably also costs much, and so it may influence the user’s decision negatively.
Back to the Model 16- it was one of our favorites from the beginning of the competition, and finally we were glad to hand the trophy to Pavol Mikuláš (read more about his work in the newest Talking Repairably).

Re-pello-model-16, designer: Pavol Mikuláš, provided by SCD

In total, we had 5 finalists in the last round of the evaluation of the National Prize preselected products. Let´s have a look to the other 4.
PEBBLES, the lamp designed by Boris Klimek represented a nice vision of connecting different shapes and colours freely, with visible screw connections, that would allow to easily exchange any broken part, or just change the design when you are tired of the previous composition. That is important, because the cultural obsolescence is many times worse than the actual unrepairability.

Bomma_pebbles, designer: Boris Klimek, photo: Martin Chum, provided by SCD

The most surprising product that made it into our selection was the LONG-BONG Stanley + LONG-BONG Teo by Matej Slezák. Already the fact that a Slovak designer makes bongo is a curiosity. It is made of independent parts with the aim to allow easy cleaning and transport of the product. It is made of durable materials, which is a benefit we do not consider for the repairability, but we recognize the absolute importance of durability in the product design.

LONG-BONG Stanley + LONG-BONG Teo, designer: Matej Slezák provided by SCD

The CREATIV collection by Alojz Karpiš is made of massive wood and connected by mechanical connections, which makes it nicely sustainable. All the components can be easily taken back to the cycles of the circular economy. The main element of the collection is an extension table, therefore also providing flexibility in use. The table can be considered as repairable, although it is not a typical example of a product, where the repairability would be required, and we appreciated that.

lukas-ronec-rozkladaci-jedalensky-stl-creativ, designer: Alojz Karpiš, provided by SCD

Stanislav Meliš designed the shelf system called Steláž. The product is modular which is great for the availability of components. The design already promises that the components will be available for the future. You can expand, replace parts, update your product.

stelazz-komplet, designer: Stanislav Meliš, provided by SCD


But we have also found another, very original approaches to repairability, in products that do not follow the repairability in the terms we see it, these are totally different concepts, however not less valid. The following 3 products represented those different approaches in the Slovak Design Prize this year.

Nosha bag by designer Julian Tupta is one of them. The designer describes it as an alternative to the typical plastic schoolbags. It is light, strictly ergonomic and multifunctional, which is very important to the small users.

alex_kinova_nosha_do_skoly, designer: Julian Tupta, provided by SCD

What makes it different, is that it is made of local biodegradable materials like cotton, wool and beech, which can return to the natural cycle when it is not needed anymore.  As far as we know, this is the only bag in the world capable of being degraded once you decide so. But the bag is also repairable in a way, if you know how to use the needle and thread, or replace some easily disassemblable parts. This is the case also for Patagonia, clothing company putting their bet on repair and maintenance of their clothes. They even publish repair guides to their clothes and bags, see more here.

Furniture Foldari by Viktor Javorek is not that kind of furniture that you could consider repairable, at least not in our terms, just because the product is not composed of components. So in our philosophy, if anything becomes scratched for example, you cannot just exchange that part. However, you can still repair the furniture by repainting it. It is made of aluminum, and therefore also very durable and 100% recyclable, as its designer Viktor comments. That counts!

foldari_tables, designer: Viktor Javorek, provided by SCD

A watch designed by Viktor Tabiš presents yet another approach. It actually considers the repair as a creative design tool, with the intention of repairing old watch with a damaged watch strap. The designer uses 3D printed silicone to integrate the old watch and provide the strap in a single piece, allowing to continue using that old watch. He also explores the open source basis, where any user can download the 3D model of the design, and print the product himself. Congratulations for this open minded idea!

watch_hodiny, designer: Viktor Tabiš, foto: Jana Hojstricova, provided by SCD


We hope you share our enthusiasm for the Slovak design, as we plan to stay in touch with it!

Many thanks for collaboration to the Slovak Design Center.

More about the winners of the Slovak National Design Prize, in the field of industrial design, can be found here. (Note: the article is only available in Slovak)