Manufacturing Value Through Context

Manufacturing Value Through Context

Sometimes a product's value seems to come from nowhere at all, instead it is created entirely by giving a normally valueless item value through context.

Kyle Studstill
  • 2 february 2010

As PSFK tracks innovation and inspiring projects, we find that many reflect that value that comes from combining existing products, services, or ideas in new ways. We also find that value can seem to come from nowhere at all, instead created entirely by giving a normally valueless item value through context. Below we have collected examples of this manufactured value that PSFK has tracked recently.

Do Make Believe Histories Add Value to Our Objects?


In our article “Do Make Believe Histories Add Value To Our Objects?“, we covered Rob Walker of Murketing and his work with the Significant Objects project. The experiment uncovers some insight on the nature of value, giving fictional history to mundane thrift store items through invented narratives about each object’s story. The items are sold on eBay, with full disclosure of their made-up stories, often at a final selling price of many times the original value.

Transient Artwork Continually Sells Itself On eBay

Artist Caleb Larsen’sA Tool To Deceive And Slaughter‘ art comments on ownership by powering its own continual exchange via eBay. The black acrylic cube checks every ten minutes if it is currently in an auction; if not it creates a new one, ensuring that owners are only in possession of the device for indeterminate periods of time. Functionally the work is simply an acrylic box and some ethernet cable, but the last auction ended at $6500.

ReKnit Upcycles Old Sweaters

ReKnit Upcycles Old Sweaters

Artist and designer Haik Avanian‘s ReKnit is a project that allows people to send old sweaters to Avanian’s mom, which she unravels and knits back into a specified article of the month. The project takes items of clothing that participants no longer find valuable, and transforms them into apparel they will be able to use.

Trash To Treasure With makedo’s Modular Connector System

Trash To Treasure With makedo's Modular Connector System

Designer Paul Justin has adapted makedo kits that allow users to create forms and spaces using modular connector clips and used them to transform everyday trash into work of art. Paul’s trash-to-treasure project was featured in in last year’s State of Design Festival.


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Asia Yesterday

Safe Drivers Rewarded In Japan With Free Coffee

Driving Barista is a new app that encourages Japanese motorists to put their phones down as they drive

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Michael Kors Has Designed Their Own Instant Camera

In a partnership with Fuji, the limited edition Instax Mini 70 comes in an exclusive metallic gold color


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Health Yesterday

Manage Your Emotional Health Through Your Phone

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has created a new iOS app meant to help patients track mental progress and set goals

Food Yesterday

Delete Food Pics Off Of Instagram To Feed The Hungry

Land O'Lakes and Feeding America are donating meals for every picture of a meal taken off of the social platform

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Design & Architecture Yesterday

This Shape-Shifting Pod Could Be The Future Of The Cubicle

MIT and Google have designed a new form of work enclosure meant to offer privacy in open-office layouts

Advertising Yesterday

Billboard Spies On People As They Walk By

To promote the movie "Snowden," the advertisement broadcasts information on passersby without their knowledge

Fashion Yesterday

Anti-Pollution Scarf Helps Cyclists Ride Through Cities

An innovative system filters pollutants and its accompanying app monitors quality of the air


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PSFK Labs Yesterday

New Mentorship Ecosystems Benefit All Levels Of An Organization

PSFK’s Future of Work report explores how technology is being leveraged to support cross-team communication

Automotive Yesterday

Volvo’s Self-Driving Trucks Will Soon Be Put To Work In An Underground Mine

The fully-automated vehicles are part of a development project to help improve safety for workers

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Energy Expert: How American Consumers Are Taking Control Of Their Power Use

Jennifer Tuohy, green tech expert at The Home Depot, discusses green home technologies and developments for renewable technologies in US homes

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: How Will Companies Staff The Workplace Of The Future?

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX examine the ways that a people-first workplace might disrupt the job hiring process

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Mischievous Drone Will Drop Paint-Filled Balloons On Targets Of Your Choosing

A German photography team developed the flying device to accurately deliver a payload wherever needed


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Fashion Yesterday

100 Backpacks Made For The World’s Top Influencers

Heineken and TUMI have collaborated on a unique custom NYC-inspired bag

Financial Services Yesterday

This Peer-To-Peer Insurance Company Is Powered By Bots

Lemonade is a new product designed to lighten the paperwork and provide instant, helpful service when needed

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