The Notoriety of Reconfigurable Products

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Every design is based on some expectations, which explicitly or implicitly determine the product intended meaning and which are realized as design requirements – once conceived relation patterns. These expectations always fit particular environmental conditions, which often become obsolete before the product reaches into the market place. A universal and obvious solution to this problem is to increase as much as possible the synchronic variety of the product by contriving appropriate decisions in design (the notorious idea of re-configurable products). Indeed, the more elaborate the structure of the product (or its concept), the larger the number of environmental situations in which it can maintain. Different product configurations can fit (or be adapted to) different situations and, therefore, in the case of dynamic environments, design evolution should increase the synchronic variety, making the product more complex to adequately react to the environmental changes.

Although the latter statement does not contradict the life-cycle semiosis laws and is, perhaps, true in general, this does not mean that the ‘best’ product must always be the most complex one, i.e. be the product with the maximal synchronic variety. Due to many reasons – economical (costs), technical (reliability), ecological (energy and material consumption, pollution), social and ergonomic (safety, convenience and easiness in production and operation), etc., the best is the product with the simplest possible structure for the given functionality, i.e. with the least possible (for the given environment) synchronic variety. In this sense, the ‘goodness’ or, better say, adequacy of the product depends on the characteristics of product environment in relation to the implemented design expectations, i.e. it depends on how well the intended meaning matches the meanings emerging through onto-, typo-, and phylogenesis (if any).

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