Another manifestation of the Craft of Use explorations came out of a conversation between Kate Fletcher and Julian Allwood of the Department of Engineering & the Environment at Cambridge University. This led to a research project applying the methods and framework from the Local Wisdom project to the use of Land Rover Defenders.
It may seem like a leap to connect garment use with that of cars but in general cars have followed the same long term trend as other material goods, towards shorter useful lifetimes and diminished repair-ability. Like power drills, sofas and this season’s dress, cars are largely seen by owners as closed objects, to be bought and maybe sold and only repaired by experts. They are disposed of when the effort or cost outweighs the perceived value of the vehicle. Land Rover Defenders were looked at specifically because conversely, for many people and for many decades has continued to invite home repair, manipulation and adjustment. It is remarkable that approximately 80% of all Defenders ever made are claimed to still be on the road.
The project took place with the help of research assistant Katelyn Toth-Fejel and photographer Dominick Tyler. Over 4 months 25 interviews from various regions of the UK including Kent, the Peak District, London, Devon and Wales were collected. The stories and photographs collected give insight into the craft of use from the point of view of car ownership and their location of use.