The Background of Product Development: Interview with a Manager #2


Interview wit a product development manager

Let me continue to share the interview with our product development manager. “Products in good quality and design don’t always sell well.” These words aroused my interest in his opinion on design, because he meant market valuation about design would not always be appropriate. Then what is good design from the view point of a product development manager?

Q 4. If what you said is correct, are there products that are bad in design but good in sales? Good sales doesn’t always mean good design?

A 4. Sadly for me, design is not a centerpiece factor any more to decide if a product sells well or not. Now that marketing, advertisement, etc. have more significant influence, people are more likely to decide not by physical factors like design and quality but by impression fostered by advertising media, for example.

Q 5. What is good design in a nutshell?

A 5. As it may sound like an old-school answer, I still believe it’d be one with logic or certainty. What is expected for design is effectively making something to satisfy some specific requirements.

Q 6. The idea seems to come up with the conclusion: only one correct design for one product.

A 6. Yes if there is only one requirement for product development. For example, if comfort is only one requirement for development of a chair, answers will converge to one specific design, but in the real world, people want more. I believe there will be still more new designs even for simple products like chairs.

A round dining table displayed in our shop. A light with complex design above the table is focused.


This brought me to the last question. I’m very interested in what he would say if asked to name one product of which design he likes. To answer my question, he pointed at a hanging lamp at our shop (see the image above) and said “I imagine the designer would try many materials for the decoration plates; many angles at which the plates are put. Even so, no two are exactly alike. I like such designs partially effected by contingency, serendipity, or something beyond human understanding.”

Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.