Next assessment: Design Factory

‘STATUS: Consumption for Self-Identification’

When we consume products – clothing, food, furniture, tools and utensils, gadgets and entertainment devices, vehicles, luxury items… –part of our rationale for doing so is often to outwardly communicate something about ourselves. This may serve as an intended, or even unconscious, statement to friends, peers and strangers, as if we are proclaiming: “I am in charge”, “I am allied with this ideology”, “I am unique” or “I have good taste”.

The messages we ‘send’ can also reflect back onto ourselves and affect the way we operate. Consider the psychological effect of clothing on its wearer:

  •   a fluorescent jacket can make a construction worker feel safer;
  •   sophisticated;
  •   a police riot-helmet can make an officer feel empowered;
  •   a corporate uniform can remind a retail employee they represent a

    larger system.

    All consumable objects can therefore operate like costumes and props, with architectural spaces as their theatres. As ‘users’, we swap and change these aspects around as we play out our various roles in society.

    The Design Museum has worked with Designs of The Year 2014 nominees, PAN Studio, to produce this brief. PAN Studio are interested in how the principles of design can be applied to create rich and meaningful experiences – creating unique sensations, provoking emotional responses or encouraging people to consider ideas from new perspectives.

    With this year’s Design Factory brief, they ask you to explore: How can we design new objects, spaces and systems to affect the way people see themselves and the roles they fulfill?

    This project is all about user-centric design thinking. You are invited to

    design an intervention that will make the intended user feel something strongly about themselves. Your task is to develop something with which an individual can engage and then say “I feel… *something*” (e.g. “I feel invincible”, “I feel small”, “I feel in-tune with my environment”, “I feel weightless”, “I feel rebellious”, “I feel contented”).

    The resulting intervention or outcome could take any form. For example, you could design:

  •   an inhabitable space,
  •   a piece of graphic communication,
  •   an item of clothing or
  •   an interactive system/ piece of technology.
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