Challenge 8: My Design Point of View


Design Point of View
Before taking this class, I had very little experience with product design. As a result, I believed my design point of view would be scattershot rather than consistent. After going through several rounds of What I’ve Got, as well as noticing What I’ve Not Got, I was surprised that there was a very specific aesthetic running through almost all of the products and experiences I liked. In particular, my WIGs show that I place a high value on a design aesthetic which expresses durability and reliability.
My understanding of this design aesthetic has evolved along with the challenges and readings. In particular, while I understood the practice of buying higher quality items for “good value”, the readings elucidated what “higher quality” and “good value” meant. In particular, from the design challenges for behavioral change and sustained motivation, I learned that “higher quality” meant desirability was defined as a clear expression of longevity as a value proposition. While UntilWeMeet (a financial savings app designed around virtual children) had many bells and whistles designed to help users for the upcoming years, my group succeeded in selling Bl∆nk (a learning platform for coal miners) to our audience much more effectively because the prototype required little explanation or persuasion that it could and would last. From the readings about product experience, it became clear that the idea of “good value” extends beyond the purchase point. In particular, “good value” is associated with a product which has triggers which are meaningful beyond an initial use. For example, while a general birthday card might trigger the user to open it with a cute pun, a desirable birthday card with “good value” might last by introducing points for sentimentality, such as recorded messages.
With respect to the WIGs, the canvas backpack, screen protector, and safety razor underscore how I value expression of durability and reliability as an intersection of aesthetic, experience of meaning, and emotion. In particular, the posts highlight how the materials used in each product suggest their longevity: the canvas of the backpack is used to evoke the rugged, outdoors aesthetic to suggest that it will weather the easier challenges of the quotidian; the self-healing plastic and extended application process make the screen protector seem resilient; and the crimped stainless steel of the safety razor suggests it is a vintage, timeless, and robust tool. I also noticed how usage of each product is an emotional experience. The products seem to deliberately eschew maximum convenience in order to evoke a sense of longevity: undoing the leather straps, the extended wet application process, and the many removable parts of the safety razor allow the user to not only bond with the product, but also feel like he or she is using something inherited from a different era. Finally, the design aesthetic capitalizes on this durability to suggest reliability. I feel like I’ve not only bought products with “good value” when using all of these products, but also feel safe in trusting them, compared with more “modern”-seeming objects (of course, all these are modern products) which may be more fragile or have design obsolescence. Overall, my design point of view seems to fit into the “Buy Once” philosophy, a consumer movement which emphasizes buying durable, high quality products once so that no further purchases are needed.

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