HCDI Seminar: Fashion and technology evolution and the design of consumer products


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The world of design is becoming increasingly aware of the dynamic nature of the context in which products are created and consumed. Designers must ensure that the products they develop will be relevant to consumers at the time of release and for the duration of the product’s shelf life. Design researchers must ensure that their theory accounts for this rapidly changing environment and its impact on the design of products. This is particularly key for modern consumer products that compete on both aesthetic and technical qualities and are undergoing constant change.

Drawing on the extensive sociological, economic and organisational theories of technology evolution, and the theories of fashion that provide a rich, multi-disciplinary perspectives on the creation and consumption of aesthetic artefacts, this study explores how product categories evolve. It finds that there are several core concepts that are common to the evolution of different product categories. These findings are illustrated through a case study of the evolution of the mobile phone. They aim to promote discussion and further exploration of a complex and under-explored area of design.

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HCDI Seminar: Fashion and technology evolution and the design of consumer products

  1. 1. Fashion and technology evolutionand the design of consumer productsAndrew Muir WoodMonday 12th September 2011
  2. 2. Fashion
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  5. 5. How wife? Wife good. Lloyd Jones, P. (1991). Taste Today. Oxford: Pergamon Press. Crane, D. (1999). Diffusion Models and Fashion: A Reassessment. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 566(1), 13-24.
  6. 6. Blumer, H. (1969). Fashion: From Class Differentiation to Collective Selection.The Sociological Quarterly, 10(3), 275-291.
  7. 7. Technology
  8. 8. Moore, G. E. (1965). Cramming more components onto integrated circuits.Electronics, 38(8).
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  10. 10. SchumpeterDosi, G., & Nelson, R. (1994). An introduction to evolutionary theories in economics.Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 4(3), 153-172.Christensen, C. M. (1997). The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies CauseGreat Firms to Fail. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
  11. 11. Haddon, L. (2003). Domestication and mobile telephony. In J. E. Katz (Ed.),Machines that Become Us (pp. 43-55). New Jersey: Transaction.Pantzar, M. (1997). Domestication of Everyday Life Technology: Dynamic Views on the SocialHistories of Artifacts. Design Issues, 13(3), 52-65.
  12. 12. The artefact lens
  13. 13. 1930s 2000s
  14. 14. Simon-Miller, F. (1985). Commentary: Signs and Cycles in the Fashion System. In M. R. Solomon(Ed.), The Psychology of Fashion. New York: Institute of Retail Management.
  15. 15. 2000 2001 2002My study
  17. 17. Feedback to original problem Deep case study Broad case studiesIncompleteunderstanding of Theoreticala problem or foundationphenomenon Improved understanding
  18. 18. 100 80 Ratios of skirt 60 width to height of women’s gures 4020 0 1820 1840 1860 1880 1900 1920 1940 Kroeber, A. L. (1919). On the principle of Order in Civilization as Exemplied by Changes of Fashion. American Anthropologist, 21(3), 235-263.
  19. 19. 100 80 Ratios of skirt 60 width to height of women’s gures 4020 Percentage of men wearing beards 0 1820 1840 1860 1880 1900 1920 1940 Robinson, D. E. (1975). Style changes: cyclical, inexorable, and foreseeable. Harvard Business Review, 53(6), 121-131.
  20. 20. Mobile phone heights
  21. 21. Clustered by form factor
  22. 22. Mobile phone colours Black Charcoal Blue Other Grey Silver100%75%50%25% 0% 1996 2000 2004 2008
  23. 23. Roy, R. (1994). The evolution of ecodesign. Technovation, 14(6), 363-380.
  24. 24. Overlays 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
  25. 25. 2000 2001 20022003 2004 20052006 2007 2008
  26. 26. CHANGE P3 Change dimensions PRODUCTS P1 P2 Functional Physical type components TIME
  27. 27. EXTERNAL CONTEXTCHANGE P10 P11 P12 P15 Influential Product Sociocultural Phases of artefacts gatekeepers change change P3 Change P17 dimensions Change boundaries COMMERCIAL CONTEXT P18 Product P13 P14 longevity Creative Market strategy response P16 Transitions PRODUCTS GRADUAL CHANGE RADICAL CHANGE P1 P2 P4 P5 P6 P7 P8 P9 Functional Physical Product Product Dominant Discontinuous Radical product Disruptive type components continuity paradigms product design change innovation product TIME
  28. 28. It’s all about the timing.
  29. 29. Discussion
  30. 30. – Can we predict the future, or must weinvent it?– Will the mobile industry be disrupted?– Can you teach trend research/foresight?
  31. 31. e: amuirwood@gmail.comThanks! t: @muirface