Introducing industrial design students to long-term product attachment

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Technological and fashion obsolescence continue to be concerns in the design of contemporary products. Research shows that consumers dispose of household items even though those are still fully or partly functional, for various reasons. One cause of premature disposal is the lack of emotional attachment between user and product. This paper aims to explore how industrial designers, as initiators of the relationship between products and users, might facilitate the generation and continuation of positive experiences that could potentially lead to the consumer’s enduring attachment to particular products, thereby optimizing the product’s lifetime and detouring it from becoming landfill too soon. This paper contributes to a larger research that seeks to understand the factors that contribute to long-lasting product satisfaction and how industrial designers can be encouraged to consider these in their product development strategies. Dining furniture was selected as the product area for this paper. The research starts with a literature review on consumer-product attachment, and on design strategies which promote the optimization of product lifetimes. These were used to inform a studio charette within a third year industrial design course at the University of New South Wales, in which students brainstormed ideas for aftermarket products that could enable consumers into modifying, personalizing, refreshing, repairing or refurbishing existing furniture items and thus bond better with their possessions. The outcomes of this exercise, in turn, provide a basis for formulating some guidelines that would help designers foster long-term product attachment. Furthermore, the charette increased the students’ awareness of the effects of rapid consumption processes, while illustrating the value of lifetime optimization through more responsible design and more emotionally durable products.
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Ramirez, Mariano Jr
Ko, Kimmi
Ward, Stephen
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