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Design With Meaning- tbpmx featuring Michelle Epelstein

The reality is that we don’t demand enough from our products but we should, we should demand design with meaning.

In today’s world, when you walk across a city everything you see from stores to clothes to cars and even to trash has been designed by someone. We can only hope that the person or team behind the design, worked on a thorough creative process to build or create a meaningful product. To be honest, this is mostly never the case, as a society, we demand constant innovation, change, better products, and better solutions thus creating a huge need for constant reinvention. In only one year the consumer packaged goods industry can launch an average of 30,000 new products (NielsenIQ, 2019). 30,000 new products! This is only counting one industry and not taking into account all the millions of products that already exist. The reality is that we don’t demand enough from our products but we should, we should demand design with meaning.

I define a meaningful product as a product* that contains the 5W’s: who, what, where, when, and why. It is important to consider that for a product to be successfully meaningful it must have all 5 of these categories.

The Who – Who are you designing for?
This is the question that one must ask themselves first. When considering your final user* you must think about their needs and desires, their likes, and dislikes and how this product is going to fit into their world. Who is the person that will be using this design? Understanding who they are will allow you to create a product that is better catered to their needs.

The What – What need is this product going to solve?

A lot of research should go into finding the need that must be solved. It’s important not to jump to conclusions and not to let any preconceived ideas bias the design, the research should be thorough to craft a creative solution.

The How – How will this product be made?

The How considers how to make a product functional and aesthetic. The goal is not only to create a beautiful product but one that above all fulfills a purpose. The same can be said about functionality, it’s key to have a functional product that is beautiful as well.

The When – When is the correct time to launch this product?

Taking timing into account will let your product perform better and succeed in the market. If a very good product is launched at the wrong time, the user might not be ready to adapt it to it’s world, potentially making the product a failure.

The Why – Why will this product be beneficial to the community?

I strongly believe that a product should not be launched if it will not provide a benefit to the community. There are hundreds of products that harm our global ecosystem and are not regulated on time, causing irreparable damage. As designers, we must strive to think about the impact that the product will have, not only for the user but for the environment as well. We must do better because I believe we can do better.

Creatives have a very important role to play, we must acknowledge that creating a product comes with a huge responsibility. I encourage all designers to question themselves constantly, are you designing with a meaning? What could you be doing better for design and our world? I hope that one day we all care enough to only design with meaning.