Relationships with Objects

I am sure that most people have a personal possession that they love. Perhaps it’s because they spend a lot of time with it, or because it’s worth a lot in terms of monetary or sentimental value.

My most valued possession would be my phone. First of all, it’s because I chose it out of the hundreds of different phones available, making it special. Secondly, and more significantly, I feel that a mobile phone carries a lot of sentimental value, especially as I do not delete my messages. Looking back at messages shows me some key events in my life that my phone has also been part of, making it a sort of memory bank. I also carry my phone everywhere and probably spend more time with it than I do with anything or anyone else. This really makes my phone very personal and I think that if it gets lost then it might be like losing a friend for me. That last sentence might have sounded slightly obsessive, but nowadays mobile phones can know its owner better than anyone else.

However how can people develop relationships with inanimate objects if it cannot talk back or do anything unless prompted to? Doesn’t a relationship largely rely on communication?

In a way, inanimate objects can communicate with its user. Objects that people usually like the most are the ones that work the best, or are unique. An object that works well sends out a positive message to the user, making them happier when using it. This makes them use the product more often and so, in a way, develop a stronger relationship with it the more they use it. There can also be negative relationships with objects, if a user has suffered from a bad experience while using it. This could be because the object is annoying to use, or a bad memory is associated with it.

ford-focus-rs-2015-(4)2015 Ford Focus

Some products are even designed to carry an expression, most notably, cars. The front face of cars usually have an expression that can attract a user in different ways. Many more sporty cars have a more menacing look to give an impression to the viewer that the car is fast. This can be seen with the Ford Focus, which has an RS version – standing for ‘Rally Sport’ – shown on the left. This RS version has an exaggerated front grille, with sharper features and darker colours, when compared to the standard Focus on the right. Although it can be seen that the standard Focus design already has a slightly menacing look with its thin, inward slanted headlights and sharp lines that make up all the lights at the front. Cars can be made to carry human expressions, so the viewer can relate to the image the designer wants to portray.

This post may seem weird: relating inanimate objects with humans and even saying how relationships can develop between them. However I think that well designed objects should result in a good relationship forming between it and the user. I think that emotion should be designed into all products, and that the most important element of an object is for the user to feel the emotion it has been designed to carry.


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