As product designers, we strive to make products that don’t only bring our investors money, but more importantly, make a difference in the world. In an article written by Ravi Sawhney on Co. Design, Fast Company’s Design section, he shares with us how Gandhi wanted to redesign society and used a product to do so.
This shows me the power and influence products can have. It also makes me reflect on the approaches we use.
Gandhi’s objective may have been to improve society. One way to do that is to empower the people and his approach was to do that through a product; the loom. This product gave the people the capacity to be in charge of cloth that they had been previously importing. By doing so, it brought about a social change, by freeing them from the limitations of imports and empowering their own.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a little more complex than that. The product must be well thought out to answer the right needs and built for the right users.
But the main idea that I get from this is the reversal of the questions. For example, instead of saying let’s make a coffee machine, the question would come from a much higher level and could be how do we help improve people’s mornings? To answer that question there are many different paths that can be taken, one of them being the coffee machine.
If we ask the right questions, we have a much better chance of getting the right answer. For me, by designing luminaires at Philips Lumec, our products have the power of touching every single person. That is something that we cannot take lightly. We have the power to help with the redesign of our society by the products we create, we just need to ask the right questions and design for the intended users.