Design i informationsåldern : Om strategisk design, historia och praktik
Sammanfattning: This dissertation concerns the change in design where companies came to regard it as a strategic asset. A background to the change was the emerging Information age with a global competition, flexible production and saturated markets. Consumption became more symbolic and less material. In this situation the companies had to find ways to differentiate themselves and their products. A way to do this was to formulate a distinctive Brand identity. In this formulation design became an important factor. This strategic way of perceiving design is, in the thesis, being examined under the title "The strategic design discourse". The thesis is restricted to the Swedish situation and the strategic design discourse is studied from the companies’ perspective. In the first chapter the strategic design discourse is being examined. A main theme is the Brand identity that becomes a platform for the design work within the company. In the second chapter the history of the Strategic Design discourse is being examined. This study begins in the 1930´s when the trademark gets its general breakthrough in Sweden. In this historical chapter both the dominant design discourse and the marketing discourse are being investigated. From being divergent they come, on a bumpy road, closer. In the 1980s theories about a meta-product are formulated and design management becomes a theme on the design agenda. This chapter ends in the 1990s were examples of the strategic design discourse is shown. The significant difference between the 1990s and earlier is the search for a unique identity, a company specific story, that is being sold and consumed. Chapter one and two constitutes what I call the ideal situation.The interpretation of the strategic design discourse in the furniture- and the bicycle industry are being examined in the third and fourth chapter both from a contemporary and from a historical perspective. Two in depth studies are being made in the furniture company Lammhults möbler and the bicycle maker Albert Samuelsson & Co (Skeppshultcykeln). Both companies have a strong brand identity and use design as a strategic asset.In the last chapter the ideal situation is being compared to the result of the practice studies. It is evident that they diverge. The strategic design discourse is not valid in all companies. In most companies design is reduced to styling. The conditions of the information age are not general even though all companies are struggling at the same saturated markets. In the last chapter some reflections over the communication of brand is being made from a art theoretical stand point using theories formulated by Mieke Bal and Norman Bryson.
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