usethings is a translation of brugsting we came across it in this passage from the book “300 Years of Industrial Design” by Adrian Heath, Ditte Heath, and Aage Lund Jensen. This book looks at function, form, and technique in products from 1700 to 2000.
What is a product?
The word ‘product’ as applied to utensils is problematic because it implies that they are merely objects which have been produced, not things to be used. The Scandinavian work Brugsting is much more telling. It means simply ‘use things’. The English language has nothing so direct. We get diverted into using phrases such as ‘applied art’ or words such as ‘artefact’ which miss the point. ‘Utensil’ is a good word which is self explanatory but we associate it with pots and pans. So, to avoid confusion, we will usually continue to use the industrially-oriented work ‘product’, and fall back on ‘artefact ‘ as a general term for anything manmade.
During the process of making, especially repeating one product, we’ve come to the realisation that a product is indeed a result of production. We use machines, jigs, and processes to enable accurate and efficient reproduction. We can make just about anything, but getting it done efficiently and to market at a good price is another thing. Then to ensure that product is a useful thing is our next step, and we’d like to imply this is opposed to useless things, which there are plenty of, things that cost our world dearly. usethings in English is a made-up word so we have the opportunity to engineer the meanings in it and try to imply our bent on sustainability without smacking you in the face with it. Sustainability is an arguable position so we don’t like to use it upfront, but try to build the assumption that it is a new base-line for the products that we make and those we select from other makers.
We use production methods to make our useful things, stripping back some of the uglier side of production: labour, resource and environmental abuses, and globalised profiteering. This is ultimately to offer an object that you will use, justifying its impacts, not an object that becomes a burden to you, the world, or future generations.
These names and meanings are a way to talk about products in society – how they are made and used. For us usethings embodies a whole re-concieveing of production, products and consumption. That is our journey.