We make home electronics that are good for people and the planet. They are good for people because they bring joy, keep people healthy, and honour the workers that make them. They are good for the planet because they use materials mindfully, are locally sourced, locally made, and designed to be repaired and reused over time.
Our first product, re:Mix is a kitchen mixer that’s made for your own glass jars, is customisable, and built to last. It’s the first step towards our vision of a circular platform for home electronics that are built and repaired locally, and never wasted. It’s based on collaboration through open-source, empowers local communities, and reduces the environmental footprint.
How did we end up here?
Ken and I met at the aptly-named “Open Source Circular Economy Conference” in 2018. We didn’t know at the time that this theme would stay with us until today. We became close friends, and we’d spend hours talking about the structural issues our society and planet face: from waste to climate change, from human rights abuses to the refugee crisis.
It was a good match: two angry but curious people with complementary skills: Ken in industrial design and mechanical engineering, and me in UX design and economics. Ken has seen the creation process from sketch to production in China, while I have witnessed how e-waste piles up in Ivory Coast.
So we set up small projects to learn from each other’s worlds. I had a blender which broke within months of purchase and we tried to fix it. When we failed, we asked a repair shop to do it but were asked for 50€ just to “have a look at it”. Frustrated, we dived into the e-waste topic, and in January 2021 we figured it’s finally time to “do something about it”.
We wanted to focus on kitchen appliances. If we could understand why blenders broke and how they were built, we might get a clue on how to tackle the e-waste problem. So we asked people in a Facebook Group to donate us their broken mixers, got flooded with requests, and got to work.
We took them apart. We learned that parts are made from low-quality materials. Assembly needs to be quick so parts are just glued together, making repair impossible. R&D costs are kept to the minimum, so that products can sell cheaply. With production half-way across the globe, offering repair services is too expensive. In short, these are products with little to no afterthought about “happens when it breaks.”
Globally, 53 million tons of e-waste are generated yearly. Or 16 kg per person per year in Europe.
Then we asked: How might we design a kitchen mixer that’ made to last and be repaired? Could a single device replace multiple? Could it be made from locally-available materials, and part of a larger platform of modular electronics? Could it be made in a way that treats workers with respect? Can it be sustainable, look good, and be fun to use at the same time? In short, can we build something that’s good for people and the planet?
re:Mix was our answer.