Evolving Perspectives in Product Design
From Mass Production to Social Awareness
In a time when profound sociocultural and technological changes are affecting the design discipline, this book presents a number of consolidated and emerging issues in product design under four dominant perspectives: technical, human, digital and social. It might be said that these changes in perspective are mainly a matter of zooming out. Indeed, while the initial focus of the book is restricted to the product and its technical features, it soon becomes wider, also including users, then taking into account a complex system of interconnected stakeholders and digital products, and, finally, embracing society as a whole. Like all perspectives, each clarifies some aspects and stresses some features of the design discipline, at the same time making other features less relevant.
Specific perspectives typically emerge earlier in some parts of the world than in others, in some social classes than in others, in some industries than in others. Moreover, later perspectives build upon, rather than replace, earlier ones: many of an earlier perspective’s tools and methods do not lose their value as the design discourse moves on to a new perspective. As a consequence, multifaceted perspectives on product design today coexist.
These different perspectives underlying modifications and adaptations of the design concept, together with the fixed elements that have characterized product design since its inception during the Industrial Revolution, are the subjects of analysis and discussion in the present book. In it, the author uses different disciplinary references, not just from design, but also from history, marketing, engineering and even law. The book results in a read useful to design students and practitioners, but also to other professionals interested in product design.
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