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Product Design, Technology, and Social Change

A Short Cultural History

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This cultural history critically examines product design and its development from pre-industrial times to the present day, considering major milestones in the mass production of goods and services, aiming to incorporate a more inclusive worldview than traditional surveys of the topic.

The breadth and versatility of product design through history has been profound. Products have long supported the integration and interpretation of emerging technologies into our lives. These objects include everything from tools, accessories, furniture, and clothing, to types of transportation, websites, and mobile apps. Products provide singular or multiple functions, are tangible and intangible, and in many instances have impacted the quality of our lives by saving time or money or by increasing feelings of personal satisfaction. At the same time, many products have negatively impacted people and the environment. For nearly every product that makes it into the hands of a consumer, there is also a designer who created it and someone who laboured to make it.

Examines the relationship between products, consumption, sustainability, politics, and social movements. This "pocket history" surveys product design from the agricultural revolution and the birth of cities, through industrialisation, and a digital design revolution.

Related Topics: Cultural Studies ; Visual Arts

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