Product design embodies a constantly evolving landscape that intricately integrates innovation, functionality, and user experience. Adopting a multidisciplinary approach, designers confront challenges such as aligning user needs with business objectives, staying informed about trends, and cultivating effective collaboration. The top design trends for 2024, highlight a significant focus on sustainability, a resurgence of retro influences and creative material reuse. This forward-looking approach is evident in designs that signify a steadfast commitment to eco-friendly alternatives. Amid shifting climates and cultural dynamics, product designers retain their pivotal role, shaping a future where the seamless integration of form and function aligns harmoniously with sustainability and user-centric principles.

Product design is a fascinating and dynamic field that involves creating products that solve real-time problems. It is a multidisciplinary process that requires research, strategy, design and collaboration skills. Here is a brief overview of product design and some of its challenges.

Product design is the process of ideating, developing, and refining products that meet specific market needs and solve user problems. A product designer helps create products that delight consumers by defining product and business goals, While also considering factors such as functionality, aesthetics, usability and manufacturability.

Product design usually follows a general process that consists of several stages, such as:

  • Discovery & Defination: Here product designer conducts user research, and market research, identifying the problem, and the product requirements.
  • Design & Testing: Finally the product designer creates low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototypes of the product, using tools like mockups and interactive models. Then finally tests them.

Some of the challenges that product designers face are:

  • Balancing user needs and business goals: The designers have to create products that not only solve user problems but also align with the business objectives and market demands, with functionality. 
  • Keeping up with the changing trends and technologies: Designers have to constantly learn and adapt to the evolving user expectations, market trends, and finally technological advancements and innovations. They are always updating themselves with the latest design tools, methods and best practices, and incorporating them into their product design process.

2024 Trends:

This year the products are coming into the market can be mainly categorised into a few based on a few different parameters, the obvious influence of this year’s product design trends can be seen are on the changing climate and needs, accessibility and inclusivity, amalgamation of cultures, technological advancement, minimalism, ease of manufacturing and many more. These main parameters are:

  1. Sustainability
  2. Retro [Blast from the past]
  3. Reuse – Cradle to Cradle [C2C]

1. Sustainability becomes standard:

It is a practice of creating products in a way that minimises their environmental impact and ensures long-term viability. Sustainable design for mass production is gaining momentum with the support of technological advancements. One of the technologies that is gaining momentum is the Life cycle assessments [LCA] solutions which evaluate the environmental impact of products throughout their life, guiding informed decision-making. Let’s take a look at the trending product designs for 2024.

RelWood:

A substitute for wood manufactured by Reliance Relwood company. It is a material that looks natural and feels like wood, and this has an upper hand on natural wood, it is water and termite-resistant, it is recyclable, fire-retardant and low maintenance. It is made using homogeneous bonding between natural fibre and polymer. 

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Relwood used in ceiling design_© Rightfully belongs to RelWOOD

This is a better alternative to wood, as it is more sustainable and thermoforming friendly. It also has a consistent quality.

Clay-Fly Ash Bricks:

These are the types of bricks that are made from a mixture of clay and fly ash [which is a by-product of coal combustion in power plants]. They are being used to replace traditional clay bricks.

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Clay – Fly Ash Bricks on display_© Rightfully belongs to Vineetha Kotha

They are lighter in weight and have a higher compressive strength than traditional clay bricks.

Desert Boards:

These are wooden boards crafted from Palm fronds manufactured by DesertBoard company based in UAE. Upcycling the locally sourced palm waste which is often buried or burnt creates a sustainable product.

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Shows the sample of the Desert board made from palm fronds_© Rightfully belongs to Vineetha Koth

These boards can be covereda with the chosen finishes by the user and not worry about their carbon footprint.

Ecotherm Blocks:

These are one more alternative for traditional clay bricks, called Ecotherm Bricks these are made with clay as well, but what sets them apart from the traditional bricks is that it has higher compressive strength due to their design, making them much more durable and these are interlockable blocks and use mortar only for vertical stacking, saving approximately 60% mortar compared to the traditional bricks.

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Ecotherm Block_ © Rightfully belongs to Prayag Clay Products

These blocks also provide thermal insulation with the indoor space’s temperature being 4 – 5 ℃ less than the outdoors, and it provides sound insulation.

2. Retro [The blast from the past]: 

Retro design is a style of design that is inspired by or imitates the trends, modes, fashions, or art forms from the past. Especially from the mid-20th century. Retro design can also be called vintage-inspired or nostalgic design.

Furniture: 

The comeback of the furniture with curves, bold colours and the material used for the seating with a touch of modernism, has everyone planning their interiors with the sophistication of multicultural design and nostalgic modernism.

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Shows the Retro Style furniture on display_© Rightfully belongs to Vineetha Kotha

Wall Textures:

Wall textures and wallpapers have returned with modern materials and a variety of different options for users to choose from, starting from textile texture to acrylic panelling.

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Different textile textures_© Rightfully belongs to Vineetha Kotha
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Array of options for walls_© Rightfully belongs to Vineetha Kotha

The modernisation of these is that they now even act as acoustical panelling making the place seem engaging and lively.

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Lively wall panelling doubling as acoustical panelling_© Rightfully belongs to Vineetha Kotha

Vintage handles:

The royal look of the brass door handles has made a comeback as well, especially in the luxury interior options. These newer options of the brass handles come with modernised and sophisticated locking systems.

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The brass door handles_© Rightfully belongs to Vineetha Kotha

Terrazzo Tiles:

These are made with a combination of natural stone and glass with a binding agent, poured into the desired mould, cured and then polished to have a smooth and polished look.

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Terrazzo Tiles_© Rightfully belongs to Vineetha Kotha

These tiles have a comeback with modernised versions and different colours and combinations to satisfy the growing demand for these tiles in residential spaces. 

3. Reuse: 

The reuse of old materials is one way of making the products more sustainable and following the concept of cradle-to-cradle instead of cradle-to-grave.

PlastPly:

It is a reprocessed plastic ply manufactured by Rpono. This is an alternative to the traditional ply from wood, this ply has higher insulation properties and a higher temperature resistance. Any type of finish can be done on top of this ply to achieve the desired output.

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Shows how the reused plastic ply can be moulded to different requirements_© Rightfully belongs to Vineetha Kotha

Wooden Lamps:

These are a unique way of reusing teak wood from demolished buildings and customising lamps to suit the interior of a space. It is designed by Remole Wooden Lighting.

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Reused teak wood lighting fixture_© Rightfully belongs to Remole Wooden Lamps

Conclusion:

In essence, product design stands at the intersection of innovation, functionality and user experience, addressing real-time problems and shaping the future of consumer goods. The multidisciplinary nature of the field demands a holistic approach, combining research, strategy, design, and collaboration of skills.

Looking ahead to 2024, the emerging top 10 product designs reflect a strong emphasis on Sustainability, a revival of retro influences, and a commitment to reuse of materials with many upcoming technological advancements. Innovations like RelWood, Clay-Fly Ash Bricks, Desert Boards, and Ecotherm Blocks showcase a growing awareness of environmental impact and the need for eco-friendly alternatives.

References:

  1. Stevens, E. (2023) What is product design? Available at: https://www.uxdesigninstitute.com/blog/what-is-product-design/  (Accessed: 21 January 2024).
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  3. careerfoundry.com. (n.d.). What is Product Design? [Beginner’s Guide]. [online] Available at: https://careerfoundry.com/en/blog/ux-design/what-is-product-design/
  4. ProductPlan (2018). What is Product Design? | Definition and Overview. [online] Productplan.com. Available at: https://www.productplan.com/glossary/product-design/
  5. www.relwood.in. (n.d.). Best Substitute / Replacement of Wood in India | Weather, Water & Termite Proof, UV & Fire Resistant, Low Maintenance Wood Company | Eco Friendly Wood Brand – Reliance Relwood. [online] Available at: https://www.relwood.in/  [Accessed 21 Jan. 2024]. 
  6. CSIR-Central Building Research Institute. (2015). Clay Fly Ash Bricks. [online] Available at: https://cbri.res.in/5746-2/ [Accessed 20 Jan. 2024].
  7. The Constructor. (2010). Fly Ash Bricks and Comparison with Clay Bricks – Composition, Uses. [online] Available at: https://theconstructor.org/building/fly-ash-bricks/5330/
  8. Utsav Kamboj [2024]. Ecotherm blocks by Prayag Clay Products Limited . [LinkedIn Video]. Available at:  https://www.linkedin.com/posts/utsav-kamboj-content-creator_these-building-blocks-fromprayag-clay-products-activity-7150453596495474691-PtA0  [21 Jan. 2024].
  9. UXPin (2022). Product Design Trends for 2022. [online] Studio by UXPin. Available at: https://www.uxpin.com/studio/blog/product-design-trends/
  10. The Spruce. (n.d.). Celebrate The Design Styles Of Yesteryear By Embracing Retro Style. [online] Available at: https://www.thespruce.com/retro-style-explained-5200603
  11. icons8 (2019). Introduction To Retro Design: Chip Off the Old Block. [online] blog.icons8.com. Available at: https://blog.icons8.com/articles/retro-design/
  12. Livspace Magazine. (n.d.). How to Perfect Terrazzo Tiles: Advantages, Types and Installation of Terrazzo Flooring. [online] Available at: https://www.livspace.com/in/magazine/materials101-terrazzo-floor  [Accessed 21 Jan. 2024].
  13. Image 1 : [Year of production Unknown]. [Ceiling design]. [Photograph]. Available at: [https://www.relwood.in/roofing.html]
  14. Image 4 :  [Year of production Unknown]. [Ecotherm blocks]. [Photograph]. Available at: [https://pcpindia.com/ecotherm-blocks/].
  15. Image 12 :  [Year of production Unknown]. [Ecotherm blocks]. [Photograph]. Available at:[ https://www.remole.in/custom-design]
Author

Embark on an architectural odyssey with Vineetha Kotha a design connoisseur, who unravels the stories within structures, blending keen observation with articulate prose. She offers insights that elevates one’s understanding of the built environment, making each article a captivating exploration of the art and science of architecture. Welcome to their insightful journey.