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July 03, 2004

Comments

David

Jennifer,

Your writing continues to broaden in scope and your weblog is consistently interesting.

Keep up the good work. You are definitely on to something.

Stacey Moore

This post reminded me of something Doug Atkin of Merkley+Partners said in a Fast Company article a few years ago.

"These days, you can't succeed as a company if you're consumer-led -- because, in a world full of so much constant change, consumers can't anticipate the next big thing. Companies should be idea-led and consumer-informed."

Steve Portigal

I attended a design conference last year (Spark:03 - read more about what happened there at http://www.core77.com/reactor/opinion_08.03.asp) and a woman from IKEA spoke about their design process. She made the usual comments about European homes versus North American homes (bigger in NA) and of course, the STUFF that we have in our homes (way more in NA), and she showed a few photos from acutal homes - the photos were very real life, what you'd expect to see - stuff everywhere! Messy shelves, things on the floor, improperly folded blankets, etc. It wasn't even how catatstrophic the situation was necessarily but how different from the beautifully photgraphed scenes most furniture is shown against (the Guardian article references how IKEA photographs their catalog layouts with color-coordinated books on the shelving, etc.).

It was a rather snooty and unrealistic design conference, and I was thrilled to see someone referencing the real world that we would supposedly be concerned about designing for.

And there was laughter - not the reassuring laughter of recognition, but the laughter of derision.

If I recall, even the IKEA person said they had asked people to bring those photos into focus groups, that they hadn't (at least in this example) GONE OUT INTO THE WORLD to encounter such (goodness!!!) chaos and mess.

I'm so used to product designers being cautiously eager to embrace and engage in the real world that their customers exist in; this example of a group of designers who was so willing to distance themselves from the real world was completely disheartening.

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