Designs, objects, and even applications, which are made for home usage, strike us with a certain sense that they are no longer just generalized, individual, or even blank purchasable items. Instead these products allow for our personal configuration and individual completion. We are able to customize most of the products we purchase either before we buy them or as we own them. A good example are sport shoes—colors, size, style—all customizable online. Adidas even calls their website for their customizable shoes “mi adidas” (http://www.miadidas.com/US/Main.action). Examples for continuous customization in the home would be “interactive picture frames”, “slip covers for sofa pillows” and “shower heads”.
There are several reasons for these latest trends:
- Manufactures gain a more cost-efficient production.
- Customization is some kind of outsourcing. It allows to reduce costs by transferring or leaving portions of manufactures work to the consumers, rather than completing it internally.
- Customization affects over all global sales strategy. Consumers worldwide set the tone for how sales and products will be operated between sale directors, direct sales distributors, and the consumers themselves. Hierarchy and business relationships might change.
- Further reasons are the interests of the consumer end: Enforced personal taste, preferences, imagination and individualism; there is a shift in perception towards other human beings and electronic objects.
Objects that have implemented customizable features enable a better adaptation towards our individual needs. But at the same time, in this “creative process” of the individualization of consumer goods, something else happens. The treatment of the original “homemade” and “handmade” quality, comes to the surface in a new way. The consumer goods, which are made for the private space with the possibility to be “completed” by the users, are no longer identified as simple products: Goods that we buy of the shelf; place in our homes like aliens; use them whenever they are needed and worst all your neighbors have the same ones too. There are no personal connections between us and the objects. It is a pure necessity. Of course this might still be the case, but for most part things have changed. Again we chose our favorite product; we might already individualize it before the purchase, thinking about a smooth home integration in advance (so it wouldn’t feel so alien like - it fits in). We now have to possibility to adjust most objects to our needs. It gains certain “personality” and “character”.
Looking at the activity of customization itself, it becomes noticeable that on the one hand there is this new playful trend of enjoyable hobby-craft. While on the other hand there is an emerging impression that customization might add a certain control over objects. (Naming a few that come to my mind probably over exaggerated: wanting more customization, personality, character, certain and a 100% reliability from the objects. Having the urge to tame and domesticate the e.os. This might end up in frustration, disappointment, anger, aggression...
What true consequences (positive and negative) might come out of this new way of domesticating technical appliance and instruments I am not sure. However, in my thesis, in the following integrated parts, I have analyzed and reflected upon possible questions and changes that have happened already and might in the future
My main interested is looking at apperceptions and expectations, communications and social interactions. Are we the consumers, immensely influenced by the experience of electronic domestication and does this influence affect our behavior and interaction with our cohabitants?