Consumer Product Innovation and Sustainable Design: The evolution and impacts of successful products

Roy, Robin (2015). Consumer Product Innovation and Sustainable Design: The evolution and impacts of successful products. Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK: Routledge.



The book builds on many years of research and teaching design and innovation at the Open University and was inspired by my archive of the (UK) Consumers’ Association publication, Which? This magazine, and the more recent Which? website, provide a unique written and visual record of the technological and design evolution of consumer products marketed in Britain from 1957 to the present.
The core of the book comprises case studies of six classes of mechanical, electro-mechanical, electrical and electronic consumer product – bicycles, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, electric lamps, television equipment and mobile (cell) phones. The case studies draw upon the reports in Which? plus many other print, online, museum and retail sources to track the technological innovation and design evolution of these products from their initial inventions to the present day. The case studies also examine when, why and how environmental criteria, such as improved energy and materials efficiency, became part of the design specification of these product classes; the influence of social, economic and cultural factors on their innovation and design; and the profound impacts of these products on society and the environment.
The book draws on empirical evidence from the product case studies to provide general conclusions about patterns of technological innovation and design evolution and compares these conclusions with existing theories. The book finishes by making use of the evidence of the case studies to provide practical guidelines and lessons for product designers, engineers, managers and marketers and for educators of these professions. The guidelines and lessons cover, for example, what makes some models and brands of consumer product successful and others market failures; how to design for reduced environmental impacts at product to whole systems levels; and trends in technology and society to help plan future consumer products.

Viewing alternatives

Download history

Item Actions



  • Item ORO ID
  • 44872
  • Item Type
  • Book
  • ISBN
  • 0-415-86998-6, 978-0-415-86998-0
  • Extra Information
  • Amazon's Kindle edition webpage provides access to the book's front matter and part of Chapter 1 The book's Routledge webpage also provides access to the book's front matter. Summaries of the book's chapters are attached as a separate document.

    Some extracts from pre-publication reviews:
    Robin Roy has written intriguing histories of… consumer products… looking at patterns of their technical evolution and the causes of success and failure. He puts special emphasis on the environmental impacts of designs including their use of energy and materials. - Professor Philip Steadman, University College London, UK.
    ...a fascinating... book... provides the reader with both a set of interesting histories but also design case studies which will be particularly useful for students and practitioners - Tracy Bhamra, Professor of Sustainable Design, Loughborough University, UK.
    ...a book that will be invaluable to product designers and others in thinking innovatively and responsibly in determining tomorrow’s good designs - Peter Lloyd, Professor of Design, University of Brighton, UK.
    Consumer Product Innovation and Sustainable Design draws on a huge amount of research and experience… Of particular note is integration of environmental considerations into the analyses and the final section on lessons for product developers and innovators- Professor Martin Charter, Director, Centre for Sustainable Design, University for the Creative Arts, UK.
    ...this... book... gives... access to a great archive of information set within a framework that challenges contemporary design practice - Professor Tom Inns, Director, Glasgow School of Art, UK.
    This book is essential reading not only for design students but for all those interested in sustainable product innovation - Michael Tovey, Professor of Industrial Design, Coventry University, UK.
  • Keywords
  • product design; technological innovation; consumers; sustainable design; new product development; design and society; design and environment
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Engineering and Innovation
    Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
  • Research Group
  • Innovation, Knowledge & Development research centre (IKD)
    Design and Innovation
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2016 Robin Roy
  • Related URLs
  • Depositing User
  • Robin Roy