Saturday, March 01, 2008
Cell Phone Design and High Fashion
Here is an interesting article from NY Times. It is about the struggle phone companies are facing today when it comes to the design of new cell phones. The approach that seems to be popular is some kind of a customer centric approach, that is, the companies are developing methods that can tell them in detail what the customer desires and want, now and tomorrow. They believe that good design is all about understanding the customer. It is obvious that the design of this particular type of digital interactive artifact (the cell phone) and others is becoming more and more similar to fashion design. When a design field becomes so closely interrelated with and dependent on the minds of the customer, the whole notion of what it means to be a designer changes. From other high fashion industries we know that there is no possible way in finding out what will be the favored future design by asking potential customers. Instead, in these fields the design frontier is pushed by extremely sensitive and highly skilled professional designers, who have the ability to "sense" the zeitgeist and small but highly significant changes in culture, and transform all this into a design that will be appreciated by future customers. The design frontier is in fashion design driven by a need and desire of constant change and variation, and now it seems as if cell phone design is moving into that area too. At the same time, cell phone design has another distinct character, and that is that the underlying technology (the material used in the design) is constantly changing and developing, which means that what is desired one day can be obsolete the next due to new technology. To be a designer of these artifacts is therefore extremely difficult since it is a combination of high fashion, cultural sensibility, and high tech. This is the complex and fascinating world of design!