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, we are witnessing a radical change in the role of designers, as well as in the mass-production industry.
The crisis of the western manufacturing industry, particularly in the furniture sector, the socio-economic transformations connected to the decline of the middle class, the extreme standardization of products – in the automotive industry, for example – the advent of new needs and social paradigms and the decrease of many of the paradigms that characterized the 20th century. All these transformations completely changed the role of designers as we knew it.
On the one hand, designers are moving “back” towards self-production and high-end craft design; on the other hand, designers are required consequently to adapt to such a change, abandon their comfort zone to acquire new skills, competencies, and working habits.
While the production of traditional “middle-class house” goods is thinning out, together with the social models behind it, new paths open up daily in the creation of everyday technology. From smartphone to apps, from augmented reality devices to virtual assistants, from self-driving vehicles to human-machine interface design, new opportunities disclose while many of the old ones are disappearing.
Sometimes this “design of everyday technology” builds on the past by developing 20th-century ideas under new forms, as in the case of many of the devices designed by Jonathan Ive for Apple, while sometimes it is forced to walk off the beaten path, as in the case of self-driving technology and augmented reality, for example.
Here, you can find some of the most interesting products and experiments developed by high-tech designers and companies over the last few years.
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