The Innovation Pyramid: A Categorization of the Innovation Phenomenon in the Product-design Field
Lucia Rampino


This paper presents an innovation pyramid that categorizes four different kinds of design-driven innovations in the product-design field. This pyramid is the final result of a long-term research process started at Politecnico di Milano in 2006 involving the three key disciplinary areas related to new product development: management, engineering and design. The disciplines were represented by the Indaco (INdustrial Design, Art and COmunication) and Mechanical Engineering departments of the Politecnico di Milano, and the Business School of Bocconi University. The first step of the research project attempted to determine how to better demonstrate the contribution design makes to product innovation. In order to answer this, a phenomenological approach was used, i.e. observing product innovation as a phenomenon. From this approach, three possible levers of a design-driven innovation process emerged: form, mode of use, and technology. Additionally, four possible types of results of a design-driven process emerged: aesthetic, mode of use, meaning, and typological innovation. The levers and results are systematized here into an innovation pyramid, which helps to clarify both their similarities and their differences.

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