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5.j: Innovation Through Design for Meaning
For many fast moving consumer goods, home goods, office goods, vehicles, transport systems and elements of the built environment there are a growing number of instances in which a business opportunity can only be achieved by defining a new meaning. Such cases of disruptive innovation or radical innovation are premised on the possibility of defining a new meaning for the potential consumers. When a designer identifies an opportunity which interconnects several previously unrelated technological and cultural codes, and articulates one or more product, system or service concepts which address the opportunity, the process can be described as one of “meaningfication, defined as: “The use of data, design ethnography, real fictions and co-creation for the purpose of designing artefacts based on new meanings which emerge from the interconnection of evolving patterns of technology, experience, personal identity, societal identity, value assignation and consumption.”
The aim of this track is to encourage the discussion of design for meaning frameworks within businesses. Call for Papers which will be covered includes:
This track will bring together researchers and practitioners to share and discuss the approach, subsequent outcomes, contributions and possible futures of the design for meaning landscape.
2:00pm - 2:25pm
Making Markets: The Role of Design in the Process of Legitimation
1Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada; 2Oregon State University; 3Northwestern University
We examine the impact of design on the evolution of a product market from illicit to mainstream. We argue the importance of congruence with normative and cultural-cognitive structures in fostering legitimacy. To understand the role of product design in this process, we conducted an ethnographic study of the newly-legal recreational cannabis market in the US, a market that has attained regulatory acceptance in some states but lacks normative and cultural-cognitive legitimacy. By analyzing product design and interviewing managers, we find that design plays a pivotal role in legitimation. Producers transform a market by manipulating two distinct aspects of materiality: material in relation – how products relate to accepted products, and material in use – how design guides and enables consumption. We offer a framework for managing products in new markets, arguing that design can enable legitimacy by drawing on symbolic relationships to other products, considering affordances, and enhancing strategic socio-cultural innovation.
2:25pm - 2:50pm
Meaning of artefacts: interpretations can differ between designers and consumers
1Politecnico di Milano, Italy; 2Brunel University London, United Kingdom
Previous research has suggested three primary categories of meaning which designers should consider during their design processes, i.e. function, ritual and myth, which cover a spectrum from the purely instrumental to the purely symbolic. The research hypothesis of the current study was that the previously identified three primary categories of meaning would be commonly encountered in practice, and that statistically significant differences would occur between designers and consumers. A semi-structured questionnaire was deployed with ten designers and with ten consumers using a set of twenty photographs of designed artefacts. The results suggested that all three categories of meaning could occur individually or could be co-present to some degree. The results further suggested that statistically significant differences occurred between the group of designers and the group of consumers in the indicated category of meaning and in the adjectives used to describe the artefacts. The findings suggest that some meaning divergences may be occurring between designers and consumers, and would appear to highlight the need for carefully executed ethnographic and user testing activities.
2:50pm - 3:15pm
Design for Meaning of Smart Connected Products
1Politecnico di Milano, Italy; 2Habits studio
This paper tackles the topic of meaning-driven innovation from a Product Design perspective. It focuses on the design of Smart Connected Products: internet-enabled phygital products that blend hardware and software. This category of products represents a positive field of exploration for meaning-driven innovation. The paper highlights three kinds of meaning that are relevant for Smart Connected Products: the meaningful identity of the object as product category, the meaning of the product in relation to its shape and functionality, and in relation to a phygital ecosystem. The paper reflects on the methods that can support designers in the development of meaningful smart products and presents the “Mapping the IoT” Toolkit, a downloadable tool that guides in specific activities aimed at framing the product’s meaning. Tests with the Toolkit proved the effectiveness of using cards with critical questions as a way to deepen design concepts and reach a common, meaningful vision.
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