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Making Sense: A Case Study of a Collaborative Design-Led New Product Development for the Sensorily Impaired

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Industrial design, through rapid technological developments and an increasing emphasis on aesthetics, has contributed significantly to our consumer culture producing a mass of superficial and transient products. This preoccupation with appearance and technical possibilities has distracted the designer from deeper human needs and from looking 'beyond aesthetics' (Walker, 2001).

We are witnessing a rapidly increasing interest in the developments of new technologies but we fear at the expense of more traditional craft skills, which have stimulated our senses since time began. There is evidence to support the fact that the eye may have taken over the hand as the worker's chief tool. As academics we are witnessing a great demise of practical skills within design education as CAD continues to be perceived by many as a more useful and cost-effective investment. David Pye over 30 years ago recognized the demise of interest in the craftsman. He stated, 'In practice the designer hopes the workmanship will be good, but the workman decides whether it shall be'. He uses the analogy of designer as a conductor of an orchestra: 'No conductor can make a bad orchestra play well…and no designer can make a bad workman produce good workmanship'. (Pye, 1968) Maybe we have now reached a point where the machine and control technology can allow the designer to make the decision 'whether it shall be', but this can only be if the designer has a working knowledge of the material itself.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2003

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1998, The Design Journal is an international, refereed journal covering all aspects of design. The journal welcomes articles on design in both cultural and commercial contexts. The journal is published four times a year and provides a forum for design scholars, professionals, educators, and managers worldwide. It publishes thought-provoking work that will have a direct impact on design knowledge and that challenges assumptions and methods, while being open-minded about the evolving role of design.

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