Package/Product Design as Social Media

sx70My last post discussed some early thinking on the implications of Design 2.0. A notion that might just revolutionize the design process much like web 2.0 looks to change the connections we make on line.

There is an interesting piece at the design blog about product design from the 1970s and 1980s that also could qualify as social media. It is written by Rob Tannen and discusses his research for an upcoming book and now an even better new website called Deconstructing Product Design.

He mentions two specific products, the Polaroid SX-70 camera and the Sony Walkman. And says,

“These seminal products provided technology that enabled sharing pictures, music, and ideas–in other words, social media. Like Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and other relatively recent Web 2.0 applications, these pre-digital products also enabled real-time (or near real-time) distribution and sharing of individual experiences.”

Of course the scale of the web, allowing you to interact with hundreds or thousands or heck even millions of people, far exceeds the Walkman’s capability of sharing a music cassette with a few friends, but the concept certainly is the same.

It’s a little disconcerting that we need to be reminded about sharing, as if we had forgotten the concept. I am not a cultural anthropologist, but I suspect somewhere in some blog, or seminar, or graduate course, those who study these things are having fun with the notion that the web invented sharing.

Seems to me its pretty fundamental.


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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One Response to Package/Product Design as Social Media

  1. I have just bought a BlackBerry 9700 for my Social Media needs, facebook, twitter, photos and the like. But for some reason, it they do not have the gritty and utilitarian look of the 1970’s!

    I have to still get out my Practika SLR from time to time, just to admire the burnished aluminium and hear it whir when set on 1 second exposure time!! Brr zzzzt zummm (“,)

    John B

    The BIG Consultant – Product Design Consultancy – Sheffield
    – ‘its the little company with the BIG ideas’

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