The design of everyday technology
Above, the Nokia Morph concept smartphone, jointly developed by Nokia and the University of Cambridge’s Nanoscience Centre in 2008
In this first part of the 21st century is witnessing a radical change in the role of designers, as well as in the product manufacturing industry.
The crisis of the western manufacturing industry, particularly in the furniture business, the socio-economic transformations connected to the decline of the middle class, the thorough standardization of products – in the automotive industry, for example – the advent of new needs and social paradigms and the decrease of many of those that had characterized the 20th century. This is changing the role of designers as we knew it.
On the one hand, some of them are moving towards self-production and high-end craft design; on the other hand, product design is changing shape, and designers are required to adapt to such a change.
While the traditional “middle-class house” objects are thinning out, together with the social models behind them, new paths open up daily in everyday technology design. From smartphone to apps, from augmented reality devices to virtual assistants, from self-driving vehicles to human-machine interface design.
They all are “design of everyday technology”, which sometimes builds on the past by developing 20th-century ideas, as in the case of many designs by Jonathan Ive for Apple, while sometimes it is forced to walk off the beaten path, as in the case of self-driving and augmented reality technology-based products. This page presents a brief but reasoned selection of the most interesting projects that designers and companies are developing and experimenting within this field.
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