Self-Expression in Product Design

By Mary Maclachlan, David K. Harrison and Bruce M. Wood.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In today’s competitive consumer market, it is increasingly important that Product Designers understand how people will experience and interact with the products they design. Designers also need to understand, how and why, people form relationships with products. This knowledge may enable them to influence a richer and more sustainable connection between the products they design and their users. This paper investigates the role of self-expression within the construct of product attachment. Important movements such as mass customisation are discussed with respect to their positive influence on product attachment and their limitations. The balance of user involvement is investigated through case-study examples of personalised products. The analysis of which, is used to propose design guidelines to achieve optimum product attachment whilst preserving design integrity. This paper also includes a study of 35 tattoos, viewed as the ultimate form of self-expression. The relationship that people have with their tattoos is investigated to establish if there are any principles that could be transferred to product design strategies.

Keywords: Self-expression, Emotion, Tattoo, Product Attachment

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.257-272. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.524MB).

Dr. Mary Maclachlan

Design Lecturer, Creative and Computing Technologies, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK

Mary Maclachlan is a Design Lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University, teaching at both Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels. Mary began her career as a Design Engineer before moving into an advisory role as a Product Development Advisor for a design-led economic development programme. For the last five years Mary has held research and lecturing roles at Glasgow Caledonian University and in 2011 she successfully defended her PhD Thesis entitled “Emotional Design Strategies to enhance user experience and encourage product attachment”.

Prof. David K. Harrison

Professor, School of Engineering & Computing, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Eur Ing Professor David K Harrison BSc(Hons) MSc PhD CEng FIET FIMechE FIES CITP MBCS, David is currently the Chair of the Research & Knowledge Transfer Committee of the School of Engineering and Computing within Glasgow Caledonian University. He has spent his working career in the manufacturing industry or industry facing academia. A graduate of UMIST, he has also worked within the Department of Mechanical Engineering, where he was a consultant to many blue chip manufacturing companies. He joined Glasgow Caledonian University in 1994 where he has had a variety of roles. He has delivered an MSc Module on “Project Planning and Management” for the past 15 years and this has been available via Distance Learning mode for the past 6 years. He is the joint author of the textbook “Systems for Planning & Control in Manufacturing” which has been designed to be self pacing and is supported with 400 PowerPoint Slides complete with Speaker Notes which are distributed via the Butterworth-Heinemann Website. He has also edited several books and conference proceedings and has published his work widely. He has supervised 36 PhD students through to graduation. He is a Visiting Professor of the University of Mining & Metallurgy, Krakow in Poland. He is the Secretary of the Engineering Professors’ Council and the President of the Institution of Engineers & Shipbuilders in Scotland.

Prof. Bruce M. Wood

Professor, Centre for Creative Industries, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Bruce Wood is a qualified Designer with 17 years experience in industry on a national and international scale. Founder of the CCI at GCU in 2002, he has created Masters programmes in Product Design and Development, Digital Media and more recently, Design Practice and Management. He has supervised numerous Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) projects and his present research activities include economic development through the use of creative industries as a driver for new products and services. Prior to joining GCU he directed a number of large-scale design-led economic development projects resulting in the development of over 200 products. He achieved a doctorate award in June 2009, thesis title “Design as Economic Development Enabler”. He was appointed Professor of Design Innovation in August 2010.


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