What is changing?
Basically, product designers are becoming much more aware of the need to foster intimacy between the things they make and the people who use them—and we’re seeing a new vocabulary of ideas and services emerging that do precisely that.
Why? We often feel ambivalent and distanced about mass manufactured goods and try to find different ways to make them feel special, intimate, and personal. Now new methods (in both design and manufacture) are being developed to capitalize on that desire.
At a design level, creators are learning lots of new ways to foster intimacy before customers can even get their hands on the end result. They want to involve people.
That’s one reason Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms have been successful—they create a level of intimacy between the product and the customer. Partly, people are buying into a dream, supporting people they are fans of, or just paying for the entertainment value of being part of a movement—but they’re also joining in because they want to have a personal relationship with a product (and the product’s creators). They want to imbue it with a story.
Crowdfunding is really about a method of service design that creates intimacy while the product is still on the drawing board.