Turning Small Insights into Actionable Design Cues
Stephen Melamed | University of Illinois at Chicago; Principal | Tres Design Group
Applied Design Research
Think globally, act locally. This has become a modern mantra for designing niche products that address a specific facet of market segmentation. But the local aspect of the intended product design might be fashioned for such uniquely different places as Hong Kong, Chicago, and Mexico City.
Industrial designers are trained to be experts in the process of product development, but how do they go about identifying the cultural subtleties and nuances that will allow the divergent locales to emotionally connect with the products?
Cultural mining is a design research technique extrapolated from traditional anthropology that focuses on gathering information and insights about the country or regional specific culture as it relates to the particular area of product or interaction under investigation. It is particularly useful when conducting cross-cultural research, to gain a deep grounding in the key aspects of the culture.
Before discussing the specifics of the cultural mining research technique to inform product (and GUI) design, this paper will first attempt to establish the foundation to validate this technique within the context of the modern practice of industrial design.