Sustainable Practices 2

Consumerism and Design

This week we learned about the design tactics used to accelerate consumption.

This began in the 1920’s where people started realise that items needed to look good in order to sell as well as achieve technical perfection for the time.

However even when the aesthetic became more important, actual designers only had very last minute input and the designs were usually done by the manufacturers.

Cars also became more accessible in the 1920’s due to cheap credit. This changed society from a consumer society to a consumerist society and were encourage to carry on buying things (The Great Gatsby does a good job showing this new found materialism in its excessive characters).

The primary tactic used then was something called planned obsolescence. This idea that you would release a product knowing a new model was going to be out in a few months or a year or whenever or in some cases designed to break pretty easily.

There were other tactics used as well such as:

  • Affiliating objects with a certain lifestyle. Often adverts were focused more on the person/people with the item than the item itself. It’s this idea that if you have item x you too can have lots of friends or be the envy of your neighbourhood.
  • Buying into aspirations.
  • Creating a brand new desire, something that we wouldn’t even have thought we wanted but we now want.

We were then given a task to discuss in groups how adverts for a particular product have changed over the years. My group was given the television.

In the 1940’s TV adverts were very much based on the lifestyle that a TV could afford you such as cheering on your favourite team from the comfort of your home. They also talked a lot about being able to have the radio on the TV and also advertised the quality of the cabinet it came inside.

In 1958, TVs started to have a little more variety in terms of what colour the wooden panelling was and that there was more channels and so this is what adverts focused on. Companies also named different models based on beauty icons to help shift units. The screens were also a little bigger at this time.

In 2016 adverts for TVs are found everywhere, not just print. They’re on TVs, billboards, magazines and of course there’s digital advertising. Advertising these days seems to focus on the quality of the screen and how realistic a picture they have. Screens are also gigantic and offer new technologies like 4k and 3D.



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