Are You Ready for the Coming 'Feminitization of Everyday Objects'?

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by: Idris Mootee


Companies that are squeezed by low cost competitors and channel proliferations are looking to ways to add value to their brands and products. Fancy packaging will not do the job as it adds cost and creates more waste. The best way out is to look to "design" to create a higher level of aesthetic sophistication and emotive elements for the brand.

It is fiercely competitive in industries including cell phone and the consumer electronic and they are looking for cultural inspirations everywhere. But whatever the cultural inspiration, if a new phone does not catch on quickly, it is not likely to catch on at all. You cannot afford to wait 3 months. If you hit, you hit. If not, next. Even good designs do not necessarily spell success. Dale of Motorola puts it this way "The strongest marketing tool is the first 20,000 people who buy the device. If they like it, they will tell their friends." Someone asked me what’s the biggest macro trend next five years, here’s my answer.

I think we are seeing a new feminine movement in design. I don’t simply mean more products will be designed for women, although that itself has been under-explored market. I mean a softer approach in design that applies to mainstream products from cell phones to computers and cars and even hotel and coffee shops. I think this is the turning point from a "male-centric" design culture to a softer and more gentle, emotional and intuitive brands and products. The early signs of this "emotive feminine branding" we can find in Blackberry Pearl or Apple Mac. I don’t mean products in pink or red or with floral pattern. I am taking about the softness in design sensitivity which gives rise to the new "feminocracy in design" or "feminitization of everyday objects" and experiences.

Most products in this world were designed by men for men with the assumptions that everyone loves that "performance" look.  And that’s why many products are so insensitive. The Apple iPod introduced an emotional element to its design which men love. Sony introduced the line of VIAO computers that has a feminine sensitivity to it versus a Dell. The Nintendo Wii is another example of design being used in a female way versus the Xbox 360. This is a larger movement and don’t miss this. America may be on the verge of a post-metrosexual moment. There needs to be something between the style-deficient and culture-deprived straight middle class suburban man and the vane metrosexual that jumped out from Wallpaper. That’s the opportunities space.

I wonder why is the world of design are dominated by men? What are the particular challenges that face women designers in the male-dominated field of industrial ir user experience design? Bad design has no gender! If anything, women are better and more observant consumers than men….being the traditional caretakers of households and families.  I don’t think our world will turn pink, but definitely better usability.

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