Shaking Hands with the Zeitgeist: Influencing trends through strategic design

Industrial Design

Benjamin Mastroianni
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This thesis aims to change the world with cultural dynamics, soft robotics, and mind control.

Hitherto. This project started with an interest in how the high fashion industry functions notably different than other fields within product design, and the perceivable influence it has on culture and trends. High fashion houses produce collections of, one-off, bespoke articles of clothing that seem to define upcoming trends, rather than modify or adapt to current ones. This led to the question of whether it was possible to achieve similar influence within other product design fields.

Research into cultural dynamics and trend mechanisms has been used to “deconstruct” the influence structure of fashion in a way that can be applied to a hypothetical design strategy. The design strategy revolves around designing products with the intension to indirectly communicate an idea or ideas and by taking advantage of a products emotional value, to increase structural and cognitive embeddedness of underlying ideas.

The application of the strategy is the design of a smart product called “Gelo”. Gelo is a ‘smart wall’ concept that uses soft robotic actuators to transform its surface to adapt to changing light conditions, improve room acoustics, and produce dynamic visual displays.

By using HASEL soft robot actuators for movement, emerging technology could be explored through the medium a conceptual consumer product while also allowing interesting functionality to be implemented to the Gelo concept. The addition of this functionality allowed for ‘display like’ properties which are used to explore the idea of smart home devices as a way of provide an enhanced emotional experienced.

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