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What makes the Apple iPhone cool? Bang & Olufsen and Samsung’s televisions beautiful? Any of a wide variety of products and services special? The answer is not simply functionality or technology, for competitors’ products are often as good. The Soul of Design explores the uncanny power of some products to grab and hold attention—to create desire. To understand what sets a product apart in this way, authors Lee Devin and Robert Austin push past personal taste and individual response to adopt a more conceptual approach. They carefully explore the hypothesis that there is something within a “special” product that makes it—well, special. They argue that this je ne sais quoi arises from “plot”—the shape that emerges as a product or service arouses and then fulfills expectations. Marketing a special product is, then, a matter of helping its audience perceive its plot and comprehend its qualities.Devin and Austin provide keys to understanding why some products and services stand out in a crowd and how the companies that make them create these hits. Part One of the book introduces the authors’ definition of plot in this context; Part Two breaks down the components needed to build a plot; Part Three describes what makes a plot coherent; Part Four takes on the challenges of making coherent products and services attractive to consumers. Part Four also presents detailed casework, which shows how innovators and makers have successfully brought special products to market.Readers will come away with a sensible and clear approach to conceiving of artful products and services. This book will help managers and designers think about engaging with plot, taking aesthetic factors into account to provide consumers with more special things.
Acerca de Robert Austin
Rob Austin is Professor of Technology and OperationsManagement at Harvard Business School where his research focuses on the changing nature of work. His experience includes a decade with Ford Motor Company; from 2000 to 2001, while on leave from Harvard, he served as a senior executive for a new division of a leading technology company, helping to establish a new organization and technology platform. He is author of Measuring and Managing Performance in Organizations, and co-author of Creating Business Advantage in the Information Age, and Corporate Information Strategy and Management. A Cutter Technology Council Fellow, Dr. Austin holds a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon. Lee Devin, Professor Emeritus at Swarthmore College and dramaturg for the People’s Light and Theatre Company, has more than 30 years of experience in the theater. He has won prizes and grants for play scripts, librettos, and translations that have been published or performed worldwide. As an Equity actor, his roles have ranged from Malvolio in Twelfth Night to Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire. He has been a visiting consultant or artist in residence at Columbia University, the Folger Library, Ball State University, the Banff School of the Arts, University of California San Diego, Bucknell University, and the Minnesota Opera. Dr. Devin holds a Ph.D. from Indiana University.
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