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.

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