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The manifestation of meaning: a discussion of the environmental, social and spiritual aspects of product design

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date07/1999
JournalThe Design Journal
Number of pages8
Original languageEnglish


The cultural aspects of product design are considered here in terms of significance and meaning. Industrial design, from its early Modernistic roots to the present, is briefly discussed in order to consider its positive and negative impacts, and the application of the principles of sustainability to the field is described. Development of the discipline, to embrace and articulate ethical, spiritual and environmental sensibilities is considered as a way of overcoming the instrumental and often vacuous nature of much contemporary product design. Re-establishing a sense of connection, in process and product, is suggested as a way of creating more environmental, socially responsible and meaningful objects. 'Meaning' itself is also described, and differentiated from 'acquired significance', in order to consider a more insightful and mature approach to the design of 'the material'.