Simplicité Volontaire

The previous post on the new puritain reminded me of a movement in Québec that started a few years ago called “Simplicité Volontaire” which is explained on this french website and which basically advocates a different and richer way of living that gets away from our conventional understanding of being rich (ie involving money).

What this makes me ponder about is the fact that whatever it is that i am to come up with has to have sex appeal and appeal to people as being in conjunction with their lifestyle and cater to their need for status through it. These are all fairly obvious considerations but very difficult to implement and design for. Perception is a fragile beast.

New experiment on its way…

A next step for me which i shall implement in the next week is aimed at discovering what values come out of sharing a unique object and being able to see the hisory of interactions that people will have with it. Being inspired by the chain-letter phenomenon, i thought i might try a chain-object event and use the web to my advantage for once as a way to link people and as a feedback mechanism. So more to come this week as i decide who to send this to, what objects i will send, what feedback mecanism to use.

The New Puritain

This Guardian article descibes an interesting social twist on current concerns about consumerism.

“So, with a few grand gestures and some high-profile converts New Puritanism offers a powerful escape route from our impulsive, reward-driven lifestyles. It might just have the potential to stave off the horrors promised by an out-of-control consumerist culture in which, according to agrarian essayist Wendell Berry, ‘The histories of all products will be lost. The degradation of products and places, producers and consumers is inevitable.'”

I am not sure turning to the Amish lifestyle that’s advocated here is the best way to get any kind of social responsibility message across but its a start :-)

Interdependant systems

As this IDFuel article adresses, we find ourselves looking at complex systems present in nature and enviously trying to mimick them.

“The natural world has evolved over billions of years to include an unbelievably complex array of interactions and dependencies, most of which are unknown, and many of which are remarkably unexpected. Intentional design, while very much different from evolution, shares a number of common solutions and themes, as we’ve discussed many times before. Would it be so surprising that the same sort of web of interdependency exists in the product design world?”

The web is indeed a stricking example of interdependancy and complexity in a system whose inherent values include sharing, communities, etc. and which are completely absent from the product world. I am really interested in this issue and hope to find more material to inspire a possible real-world application.

Cooperative design

From the communal ovens of europe:

“These common ovens also encouraged diversity for the “loaves going into the oven were slashed with distinct patterns so each family got back its own–really its own, since the grain from which it was made was grown on their farm.” via IDFuel

This makes me think about the power of diversity in communal sharing and the power of the unique results that could come out of sharing an object with particular people. How would an object react to whether you use it with you girlfriend versus using it with your friends.

Nostalgia and technology

Hmm, interesting exhibition at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art in Salt Lake City called:

Nostalgia and Technology : Embracing the New through Art and Design

From the scientific instruments that shared shelf space with art objects and taxidermy in the collections of 17th-century nobility to the cabinet radio disguised as period furniture, technology often enters the home with familiar company.

Greed and product design

Ok so in recent news iPod is getting sued by a group of Nano users on the grounds that it scratches too easily and not only should they get their moeny back but a share of the profits as well.

This 37 signals article goes on to show, by the simple display of comments, how much people expect from that product and how little it delivers. A business class last week in school made me think about the levels of expectancy from the user’s point of view. Generally speaking on white goods or failry low tech objects, we expect 100% and more, at all times, otherwise the object is doomed to be thrown out. In high tech objects, we no longer care what happens to them, you just need to wait a while and a salesperson will sell you a free new phone or the exchange mecanisms are so simple, its not worth even thinking about how crappy taht last model was.

But here, nano owners care enough apparently. Is it because the beloved apple broke its silent promise of luxury and shamlessness by providing users with a low quality object that does not stand the test of a minute’s use?

Computers for art

I am facinated by the interest that people (gouvernments, designers, artists, Oprah) have all of a sudden about the environment, waste, global warming. Like this is something that just hit them… sigh… Buckminster Fuller must be stirring in his grave.

So on the critical side of things we find Computers for art where a non-profit organisation that aims to reduce and to promote the re-use of redundant technology, such as computer/office equipment, through collecting and storing such equipment for use by artists in public exhibitions.

So another loop in the user-use-disposal system which i will map out very shortly.

Emotion fuels innovation

On my quest for the perfect thesis projet i will look at how we interact with products around us, what fuels the consumerism patterns we know in order to derail them and direct them to shared and communal experiences. So a starting point for me is to understand the consumer and what is the landscape of innovation, marketing and consumer driven tools.

I found an article on emotionally driven design. As people reinvent themselves daily and change the attitudes they have depending on their surroundings, the products we surround ourselves with need to have that same level of flexibility and need to grab us in these transient times.

“The aspirational you is one of those drivers of emotional consumption. With the multiple choices available to us in our 10 second on-line shopping experiences, the emotion of design becomes the absolute driver. If you’re not emotionally driven within a very short time frame, you’re only one click away from something else that will give you the emotional charge.”

This short attention span is very much a product of our “paradox of choice” as i like to call it, meaning that decision-making has become a very difficult business to conduct. We find ourselves constantly bombarded with information on many different layers and it’s hard to make sense of the big picture. So things have to grab our attention, practically hitting us like a ton of bricks with their relevance, with whichever tool that is available: advertising, positioning you name it. How do i tackle this mountain? Shall i operate without it, ignorning the elephant in the porcelain shop? Food for thought at the moment i havent made up my mind. Maybe I’ll subvert these tools in helping me and create a brand of products… close tag.