Same as it ever was

Cognition: A Discussion.


How does your practice acknowledge cognition as an individual thing?


They say the best, most innovative designers are children.  They have no preconceptions about how to do things, what things should look like and how they should be used.  They are not afraid to suggest, what to an adult, would be a crazy idea, and be laughed away as a childish thought.  A box is a house for dragons, an empty bottle a submarine, a pencil becomes a lightsaber.  We, (as adults), assume things have to be a certain shape due our preconditioning: a hair dryer has to be gun shaped, as that’s how a hair dryer looks.  But why?  Why not shaped like a banana or a ball, or just stand in the sun?  As product designers we are encouraged to play, to have crazy ideas and see where they take us.  What if I put this thing with this other thing, would that work?  The older you become, the more you are expected to ‘stop messing around’, but I think we need to do more of it.  It could easily lead to something truly innovative.


What would happen to your practice if it did recognise this?
I generally think it does…to a point.  I think we can encourage more play and wild thought.  The reality is that very few people get to truly innovate in this field, more are asked to modify a product by 5%.  The ideas are there, but they need to be pitched to an industry separate from the one that see pound signs in their eyes and their reputation on the line.  If they present a designer’s innovative view of their product to market, they feel they will be laughed at or loose money or, heaven forbid, drop down the Google rankings.  Putting a truly innovative item on the market, that is vastly different to its competitors but significantly better, takes guts.  If it doesn’t succeed, then you risk losing it all, and there is the rub.  Innovate all you want, but if it seems too much of a risk, we’re always going to have hairdryers look the same way they have done since the 50’s.


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