Feathers Flying: An Experiment and Subsequent Lesson Proposal in the Practice of Inclusive Design
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Industrial, Interior and Visual Communication Design Honors Theses; 2009
This thesis reports the process and findings of an experiment to examine the affect of iconic product designs on consumers and retailers, and specifically how their preconceived notions of high design influence their perceptions of a new product. Consumers often experience an unquantifiable psychological attachment to products they have purchased, such as a favorite wallet. In addition, their knowledge of existing designs influenced their decision to purchase said item. Within the industrial design curriculum at universities, the opportunity to do a post-project evaluation of student designs against existing marketed products is not typically provided. In the experiment described herein, a serving set was designed and developed according to the design process practiced at The Ohio State University, with the aim of the product creating a psychological bond with its potential users that would make it competitive with comparable existing products. The evaluation phase included interviews with peers and a blind study with retailers who would potentially market the set, to determine whether the intended aesthetic of “high design” was achieved. It was concluded that although the project was limited in scope by budget and time, the results of the interviews and research consistently proved that 1) the success of a design rests in its inclusivity: a dialogue between designer and user that is expressed through the distinctive qualities of the product, including but not limited to the use of metaphor and abstract employment of familiar imagery; 2) not all design should strive for a “high design” aesthetic in order to be successful because of that field’s subjectivity and susceptibility to trends; and 3) the findings of the experiment have the potential to be presented as a two-day lecture integrated into an existing industrial design studio course.
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