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The Constitution of The Product: Form, Function, Material, and Expression



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CHAPTER TWO The Constitution of The Product Form Function Material and Expression Because products are the result of a diversity of activities and appear in equally diverse manifestations What constitutes a product is a pressing question for design In this chapter I address the question How is a product constituted I contend that one manner of addressing the constitution of the product is through the dimensions of the product its form function material and expression In this chapter I briefly describe each of the dimensions of the product I propose that products can be described and analyzed by the distributions of significance and influence across the dimensions resulting in different kinds of products each with different agencies I conclude the by presenting a brief plan of inquiry for the subsequent chapters One of the first and frequently encountered problems with products is a problem of definition Products are often reductively equated to physical goods or even more specifically to physical commodities This has the detrimental effect of situating the design of products in the domain of industrial design and engineering and largely excluding products from other activities of design Clearly such a consideration of the product as solely a physical good or as the outcome of one but not another activity of design is not adequate from the perspective of design as a practice involved in the conception planning and making of products across ever increasing domains Therefore a more through and robust definition of the product that can account for the swelling practice of design is needed 32 Design theorist Victor Margolin has put forth a definition of products that is as an effective point to proceed from According to Margolin products are the human made material and immaterial objects activities and services and complex systems or environments that constitute the domain of the artificial Margolin 1995 122 This definition of the product is thorough and robust because



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