Influence of Stakeholders on Industrial Design Materials and Manufacturing Selection
Owain Francis Pedgley
Surprisingly little is reported on the pragmatic influence of project stakeholders on industrial designers’ selection of product materials and manufacturing processes. This paper reports on a descriptive scoping study that revealed these influences as critical in making effective selection decisions. Using interview and case study methods, the study elicited the professional practices of industrial designers. These are analysed in the paper, leading to the formation of a four-way stakeholder description of materials and manufacturing selection in industrial design, spanning: users, clients, manufacturers/vendors and designers/design team members. The practical influence of each stakeholder on materials and manufacturing decisions is discussed. With clients excepted, under most circumstances the flow of activity is initially from designer-to-stakeholder, rather than stakeholder-to-designer. Crucially, the paper establishes creativity in the selection of product materials and manufacturing processes as cleverly attending to stakeholder influences, and distinctly not to unconstrained freethinking or self-centred decision-making. The paper reviews professional boundaries of responsibility and approach to materials and manufacturing, identifying industrial design as a fusion of designer-maker and design engineer perspectives. Industrial designers commonly view materials as a contribution to a product’s user interface, with an associated effect on users’ experiences of product utility and supra-functionality.
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