3The role of a product designer The role of a product designer can vary depending on theproduct they are developing or the organization they work for.Product designers work in conjunction with other roles:Which other roles are involved? Discuss the role of the designer in relation to them.
4Social awarenessWill the product cause physical or mental harm to the user group?Can the product be misused or abused by people?Willspecific social or religious groupsbe offended by the product?Product designers have a responsibility to society because they design and manufacture items which can affect people’s lives in many ways. Designers should consider these questions:Will the product affectthe environment in any way?Does the product encourage a negative behaviour pattern?
5Economic awareness Discussions could focus around: Economy of scale Bulk selling/buyingFlat pack culture – advantages/disadvantages for the manufacturer and consumer.
6Being health & safety conscious Risk assessment involves thinking ahead about working procedures in order to anticipate risks and take precautions.
7Designing for health & safety Designers should think in terms of designing products which do not cause potential harm to their users. This is particularly relevant when designing toys.Which features do you think toys should not have, in order for them to be safe for children?Toys should not have:sharp edgesprotruding partssmall parts whichcould be easily swallowedeasily detachable partstoxic surface finishes.
8Designing for health & safety The risk involved with each activity depends on a person’s training, abilities and the equipment they are using.Decide whether each activity is high, medium or low risk by dragging it into the correct box.
9Designing for the environment Designers have a social responsibility to make sure that the environment is not damaged as a direct or an indirect result of products they develop.The rainforests are a good example of a natural resource that is under threat. They are being depleted at an alarming rate so that the trees can be used around the world for manufacturing and other purposes.Manufacturers are encouraged to use more softwoods, which can be replanted and grow at a quicker rate than hardwoods. Other materials such as MDF and chipboard are also better for the environment because they are made mainly from recycled materials.Are there any recycled alternatives to the materials you use?
12Designing for the environment Product obsolescence refers to the lifespan of a product and the serviceable and maintainable parts within it. Have you ever noticed that some products fail just outside the warranty period? They have obsolescence built into them.Obsolescence is both positive and negative depending on how you view it. Some manufacturers make products that will last, in the hope that consumers will eventually come back to them for another product in the future; some design levels of obsolescence into their products so that specific parts wear out and need to be replaced. Usually, these parts are not covered under guarantee.How long would you expect each of these products to last before wearing out?To see a product that has been designed to last for 20 years and tested to the limits, go to the Dyson website -
13Designing for the environment Split into three groups. One group should be the designers, one should be the manufacturers and one the consumers. In your groups, discuss the implications of the following statements. After 20 minutes, discuss what your groups have talked about with the rest of the class.Consumers have to buy spare parts for the product after the initial purchase.The product keeps working for a long time.The product breaks down within the guarantee period.Spare parts and labour charges are expensive.The product breaks down beyond repair soon after the guarantee period ends.
14Designing for consumer protection The National Consumer Council (www.ncc.org.uk)The Citizen’s Advice Bureau (www.citizensadvice.org.uk).International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) (www.iso.org)Trade Descriptions Act (www.dti.gov.uk)British Standards (www.bsi-global.com)Weights and Measures Act (www.dti.gov.uk)Consumer Safety Act (www.direct.gov.uk)Sale of Goods Act (www.dti.gov.uk)Consumer Protection Act (www.dti.gov.uk)Consumer Associations (www.bwmaonline.com)European Union Standards (www.food.gov.uk)