Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Product Design- How important is being original?

We work hard to conceive of new ideas. This is always something that we couple with the pressing need to make creative stuff that meets the customer’s objectives. The key thing here is not to look down on an imitated design; rather, I believe that many of us are simply finding similar ways to solve problems. If an individual visited half-dozen restaurants and asked for a rich, filling, tomato-based dish containing pasta, odds are high that in many instances, she would be presented with spaghetti or some variation of it. This notion is not being presented as an excuse, but rather as a sensation that I believe we may all be experiencing more and more these days. (And I suspect that we’ll be feeling it with greater regularity in years to come.
Few are interested in something that works well, when the promise of something new is present. That is the driving force for innovation. 
The article cited here also lays some industry-specific blame on the advertising and design awards which the industry holds in such high regard. What is the design worthiness of utilitarian pieces which pay no attention to the principles of visual balance and materiality? A good example of this would be an ugly, photocopied “30% off” coupon on canary yellow copy paper. This is the kind of thing that one would hardly want to reference as a product of their creative output; however, should it increase sales for a local “mom & pop” diner, wouldn’t it be better designed than something more handsome (and original) that resulted in no benefit to the client or end consumer?

Designers should always be expanding their knowledge of design, history, popular culture, politics, music, art, social conditions; moreover, we have to try to understand what motivates our own human interaction. This cumulative knowledge and experience is what helps us build more insightful design.

Everyone wants to be an innovator. We have to ask ourselves the question-What’s more important to us as an industry? Utility in design or the thrill of innovation? This discussion leaves us with a very open ended question- So what if similar notions may have been explored before? What is to be lost if the typography we employ isn’t the most innovative treatment imagined? So long as it’s effective in accomplishing what was required from the effort, perhaps we have performed as well as one should expect. I may not need my new home to be built in the most innovative fashion imaginable, but I certainly would appreciate that the architect had planned around my needs and expectations, and delivered accordingly.
Not much if you ask me. Imitation is the best form of flattery. I would like to cite the example of Ford Fusion –a mid-size car which has generated a lot of debate in recent times because of its Aston Martin resemblance. You might just feel like you are buying a piece of super car without shelling out over $100k.

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