Is It Real? The Trend toward the Authentic in Product Design
By Luke Williams
This gum, Mr. Wonka went on, is my latest, my greatest, my most fascinating invention! It s a chewing gum meal!
In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl toyed with the concept of simulating the authentic when a three-course meal was replaced by a single piece of chewing gum. While Wonka s magic gum has (so far) been confined to fiction, we are exposed every day to products simulating an authentic experience. But has the time for simulated materials passed?
After decades of being surrounded by synthetic, mass produced, generic products, consumers are yearning for the authentic: For the tactile sensation of genuine materials, for the real thing. For goods that make an emotional connection with the artisan who crafted them. This yearning is evident in both marketing and product design, where perceptions of quality are strongly associated with the presence of authentic materials. (See last week s frog Design Mind for our discussion on how materials shape consumer perceptions.)