Design for the future: Maximize constraints, minimize resources

If necessity is the mother of invention, is prosperity the father of consumption?

Industrial design as a profession emerged from the roots of the
Industrial Revolution, and flowered into full force during the post war
boom of production in the 50’s and 60’s – thus it has always had its
foundations in highly industrialized nations, where the infrastructure
of modern life such as electricity, water, housing etc was fully
established.

But the makeshift solutions in the liminal space where poverty meets high technology that seem raw and crude to our eyes –
accustomed to gleaming automobiles, iPods and shiny shops full of
consumer goods – have their own criteria for existence. They could be
said to be ‘design for survival’ – one comes up with solutions for
problems with the materials at hand when there are no resources
available to get the best that may be available in markets elsewhere.

Taken in this context, I would like the posit the following criteria for the design of products and services for not only the bottom of the pyramid, rural or developing markets in the near term but also across socioeconomic strata in the longer term.  One could call it Jugaad design ;p –


1. Durable and sustainable
2. Reusable and recyclable
3. Affordable and appropriate
4. Low profit margins, higher volumes

I’ll try to find examples here in India and hold them up against my theories but
in the meantime, I do wonder if these just might make a worthwhile lens
through which to look at an emerging form of design.

This conversation will certainly continue…

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This entry was posted in Business, Design, India/China/Asia, Mobile phones & Bottom of Pyramid, Rural Innovation, Strategy. Bookmark the permalink.

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