The Motive of a Product
What does it mean for a product to have a motive? For arguments sake let’s define motive as: a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious; an element of a design or product that offers more than the face value of the intended use, an implicit quality. Conversely, an explicit motive is the most obvious: to generate revenue by creating value through design/quality/price. This is by far the most widely created type of product. Let’s examine inherent qualities.
If you have ever purchased socks from Bambas, chances are high that you know that you donated a pair of socks to someone in need, the same holds true for Tom’s footwear and Ben & Jerrys Ice-cream. There is an alternative inherent motive to those products collectively by you and the respective company. You get your product, and in doing so help someone along the way.
In the case above, when you buy a bench, you adopt a bear through WWF; with polar bear paws in a full size gait carved into the bench surface. The intent of the Polar Bench is to bring elements of the polar bear into your life, to understand the scale of these animals, and ultimately, a reminder that these animals need our help to survive.
There is another type of motive: Products that challenge the status quo by pushing against pre-determined definitions. These designs fulfill the purpose of the product and enhance the function and /or aesthetic through a sense of whimsy, nostalgia, unexpected materials, etc.…
Droog for example, took random drawers and bound them together with a strap; in essence a new type of “chest of drawers” made by assembly, an alternative view of what it means to be furniture. Droog was founded in 1993 by product designer Gijs Bakker and design historian Renny Ramakers. During the Milan Furniture Fair in 1993, the duo presented a selection of sober designs made of industrial materials and found objects. The presentation was titled 'Droog Design', because of the simplicity and dry humor of the objects (Wikipedia).
Along the same vein of thinking, Day-Studios took an institutional cafeteria tray (below), an antiquated familiar form, and transformed it into a coffee table, while still being able to function as a very large hosting tray. Making changes to the products scale, material, and purpose from a benign form into a re-interpreted product.
Both types of products are needed in today’s market place. We create both types of products constantly. Ultimately, the believe that products with inherent motives are worth more. Our world is a richer place when these types of products are being made, to challenge the paradigm and offer an alternative motive.