In June and September of 2016, myself, as chief investigator, with Niklavs Rubenis and Andy Marks as co-investigators, interviewed 30 or so participants in the human research project Object Therapy. This research was conducted under UNSW ethics approval HC16145 – Object Therapy: an investigation into the consumer culture of broken objects and their repair by design.

The interview process was designed using a hybrid semi-structured/in-depth interview methodology to facilitate the Reissman model of narrative-based analysis. Practically this concerns using semi-structured questions, but allowing interviewees time to free-associate their experiences in-depth, in ways that may develop previously non-conscious understandings of their possessions and their relations.

The Stage 1 interview questions were sequenced:

1 How did you come to acquire this object?
2 How long have you owned or used it, and how did it break?
3 How long have you kept it since it broke?
4 Is your relationship with this object linked to any particular aspect in your life?
5 When the object broke, how did you feel, or what were your first thoughts?
6 Have you changed these thoughts since?
7 In regard to consumer products breaking, how do you regard the differing responsibilities of people such as the designer, the manufacturer, the seller, the consumer, or anyone else?
8 In what way would you like to see it repaired?

The Stage 2 interview questions were sequenced:

1. Since we last saw you, did you experience any feelings or concerns about how object may be repaired? (Or from not being in possession of it?)
2. What do you think of the repaired object now? (How different is it from your expectation?)
3. How would you now value this object?
4. Would you sell it, if you had the opportunity? Do you think you could put a cash price on it?
5. Would you repeat the process (and if so, would you prefer it done differently in anyway?)
6. Did participating in this process change the way you think about other broken objects you own or have owned? (Or change the way you think about products, consumption, waste or repair in general?)

To facilitate in-depth conversation and narrative flow the research investigators added questions as necessary and ignored questions if the answer had been provided in response to a previous question. As can be seen from the full interviews and their excerpts, much of the interviews were accordingly free-ranging and reflective by design.

The full interviews can be accessed at this link. (Please note that 1st stage interviews are categorised by the name of the repairer selected for that interviewee’s object. 2nd stage interviews are in their own subfolder.)

Interview excerpts can be viewed courtesy of Hotel Hotel’s Vimeo channel for Object Therapy. That page can be accessed directly, but I recommend using individual interview links from either the online Object Therapy catalogue or the downloadable PDF version.


Riessman, Catherine K..2001. “Analysis of Personal Narratives”. In Gubrium, J. F., & In Holstein, J. A. (2002). Handbook of interview research: Context & method. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications, pp. 695–7.

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