What is this all about?

Designitives is a venue open to the exchange of ideas and collaboration between consumers, industrial designers, engineers, sellers and manufacturers worldwide, in order to generate the relevant information, accessible to everyone and that provides a real and effective tool to aid in the creation of products that we all want and need.

Several easy-to-use surveys help evaluate which aspects (design and manufacture) of the product are the most appreciated by the user and stimulate and open debate in which visitors can freely express their sensations, opinions and needs, and propose ways to improve the product.

Industrial Design. Collective intelligence+
What we wanted

On the risks entailed by collective product development, someone once said “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.” To which one would have to reply that if this was the case, contrary to the popular interpretation of the saying, this marvellous piece of design and engineering could only have been imagined by a committee of Bedouins who knew exactly what they wanted and would stand for nothing less.

On the other hand, it is quite unjust to suggest that manufacturers have no idea of what we ask of a product. On many occasions the manufacturer has been more than one step ahead in recognizing our needs, and has even gone so far as to create them. When this happens it is only because the manufacturer has been determined to comply with one of the basic tenets with which every serious industrial project is undertaken: to generate commerce, a product must satisfy a demand and do well what it was made to do and more.

What happens is that the process that leads from the original idea to the final product is so long and plagued with technical pitfalls (design, production, logistics and costs) that many ideas have failed simply by not being able to reconcile the demands of industry with the needs and expectations of the consumer.

All of us are users and consumers and our opinions constitute a valuable source of information as long as it is used properly. It is not a question of minimizing its importance nor one of slavishly bowing to it. A good design establishes a compromise between both and smoothens the way when confusion reigns.

If, as consumers not specialists, we all ask ourselves how we would improve a product we often use, surely we could come up with a lot of surprisingly good ideas. But would we really be willing to pay the extra cost they would entail?

As an Industrial Designer, I have often noticed how the sales of a product have been affected by a price increase of as little as 2% due to minor innovations to improve the product’s function. However, on other occasions, consumers have quietly taken in their stride price increases up to 100% covered by a halo of technological revolution of the product. Market follies? Effective marketing campaign? Perhaps neither. It may be that the evolution of our way of life shows us what is really indispensible and what will shortly cease to be so.

Not long ago, one of the decisive features when buying a car was the power of its motor. Today we are more worried about its consumption and in the near future its battery range will be a determining feature. Once, what was important in a celular phone was its coverage. Today, data management, messaging, geolocalization, the Internet or photos and videos have all become applications that are used as much as the original telephone service, if not more.

And here is the key to what designers and manufacturers are debating, quite apart from questions of design and technology. What is changing the way the product is being used, and how? What can we do to help it evolve in that direction? What can we dispense with? What can we incorporate? Which aspect can we sacrifice in order to promote another? And then, the most important: Will the customer be willing to pay for it?

For this reason it is essential that there should be a forum in order to democratize the process, to facilitate the exchange of ideas and values, in which it is agreed that design should be an inherently collaborative process that does not exclude the only experts in our needs: you and I, the consumers. A flow of information that is accessible to everyone and that provides a real and effective tool to aid in the creation of products that we all want and need.

By Somerset Harris
Industrial Designer