Design awareness is at an all-time global high and the focus of design theory is shifting from ‘the interplay of form and function’ to that of the ‘experience’ offered by a brand. Further, there is all this talk of big data and game theory while people continue to be more connected through the internet and social media. What does this mean to the practice of design? How can the design process assimilate these trends and evolve to connect with the present and the future?
Today, with all our gadgets and technology, we have the opportunity to do more in a day than ever. It is not surprising that people are interested in what is in store for them to indulge in next. With any new product / service release, there is such a plethora of comments, reviews and pictures that are made available on the internet. These not only tend to be expressions of journalists and aficionados but also a rising portion of the common consumer.
This provides an opportunity to offer an experience to consumers and creators to engage in a conversation as the product / service / brand is in development. For the consumer, this would mean that the process of product development is very much a part of the ownership / brand indulgence experience. For brands and companies, this is a way of engaging their audience to form meaningful relationships right from the initial stages of product creation, massaging the trust factor and showing off their development process. As in any conversation, it would be up to the initiators to set the tone and content of the discussion. It would be up to respective firms to decide what, how much and how often content will be released for public viewing, based on brand values and goals. Eventually, the ones that engage strategically with their audience will have the opportunity to capture a greater portion of the consumer’s mind-space.
The auto and the tech industries do make use of this in a mild form where spy-shots and some times, conceptual versions are shown to the public a little before the actual release of the product. And this does create a bit of a stir and initiate conversation. However, looking ahead, it might be in the interest of brands and consumers to strategically engage in conversation regarding the development of new products and services.
Well, what do designers and the design process stand to gain from this? While democratic design and the idea of customization have been around, the one-liner that perhaps, designers can agree upon as being legitimate is that we have gotten into the shoes of ‘thinkers’ and ‘enablers’ of the dreams of society and we also excel at the execution of it. This is a platform for brands to showcase how the messy process of design works while getting to engage with the consumer base in a strategic fashion.
This does of-course mean that the existing norms with regards to IP rights and patents need to be re-thought and worked around. It might be worth the effort if it means that a great lot of us stand to gain from a process that makes sense in this hyper connected world.
- Vijay Chakravarthy
Western PA Chapter