12 Dec The psychology between you and your product choices.
We’ve been talking about product ‘relationship’ and how we fall in or out of love with what we buy and the connection we make with the things we choose to surround ourselves on a daily basis.
Semiotics is a rapidly growing area of design and should not be under-estimated. Semiotics, ‘the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation’, relies on your brains ability to subconsciously associate and relate to previous experiences. When I engage as a Ken Rand Designer in a project, I bring years of training and experience to ensure that all areas are considered, including semiotics.
Let’s think about an everyday item such as a pepper mill. Leaving cost out of the equation, what makes you choose one mill over another? Do you associate the weight in your hand with quality? Do you associate the smooth finish with high end machinery? Or do you associate the textured grip with attention to detail? Everything from how the pepper mill looks and feels, to the noise it makes when you grind the pepper, has been carefully considered by a designer.
While discussing this with a colleague recently it was brought to my attention that the noise when a cash machine is ‘counting our money’ isn’t actually required, it is produced electronically! Feeling cheated by such an everyday product I decided to carry out an experiment. I put on my noise cancelling headphones and headed to my local cash point. Much to my surprise the experience simply didn’t feel right, I didn’t like using that machine, I could no longer hear it ‘counting my money’.
Before you start thinking semiotics are the replacement for subliminal messages or addictive additives, they are far from it. This up and coming area of design is making the power struggle within branding work even harder for your business. Large corporations spend millions on branding, ensuring that the blue of their logo is the ‘right blue’. The colour can influence your opinion so much that you think their values are too corporate and heavy, all the way to too light and airy with no substance. This applies across the board, from logo and web design all the way to product design and manufacturing techniques. If a company could not achieve constancy within 1000 products, would you associate them with quality?
One of my favourite products is the Roland Kreiter Lemon Squeezer; I bought it as a Christmas present a few years ago. I am not one for buying kitchen equipment as presents, but this was different, I saw it and immediately, I didn’t just wanted it, but needed it. The flowing form and interesting shape captured my attention instantaneously. As I picked it up I ran my fingers along the sides of the smooth organic twists and turns of the metal. The weight of the object in my hand was not too light to seem cheap, but not too heavy to be unusable. Semiotics had been used to make me feel this strongly about this, frankly inanimate, object. Kreiter had done such a good job at creating the perfect necessity that even I, who have studied semiotics for years, fell into his love story.
You may not think this is relevant to my placement at Ken Rand partners, but we start our relationship with clients as soon as they make first contact. How does the website make you feel? Does the carefully considered spacing and alignment of all the images, text and products make you feel like it is professional, or have a high attention to detail? While receiving a call, I ensure customers feel important, their project sound exciting. The change in design has lead the client to be the designer, they are leading and simply using a designer as a resource. Its now my job to make their project extraordinary, from behind the scenes!
by Sophie Hambling
Photo by woodturnerscatalog.com