The Collaborative Roles of the Designer, the Marketer, and the Consumer in Determining What is Good Design


The past view of the artist or designer as a uniquely talented visionary whose own references are mainly internal has migrated to that of communicator. With respect to product design, we are in the midst of a move to a much more consumer-oriented practice by which the needs of the consumer and her or his response to products in the midst of the design process are solicited and factored into the whole process much more assiduously than ever before. The flow of communication between designer and consumer has transformed from a largely one-way process (from artist to receiver) to a much more interactive process involving the marketer as intermediary. This change includes a shift from the traditional modes of marketing communications, characterized as a one-way flow of information from sender to receiver, to a collaboration between the marketer and consumers. This feedback from the marketing research process concerning the usefulness and acceptance of various designs is now a well-established, micro-level feedback loop. In the following we propose an additional, macro-level loop that also feeds back to the designer and also influences the creative process. Though it may be a latent process, and less deliberate, it contributes to the designer’s sensibilities in a manner that may not be so apparent to the designer. This loop is mediated by consumer feedback once again, though not by individual responses to market researchers deliberately made to designers during the design process, or by their individual purchases, but by collective consumption and usage patterns. Those products, packages, and advertising imageries that prove popular proliferate into our world to serve as visual background to our daily lives. In the following, we examine the role of each player in detail.