20 March 2009

The future of shopping

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The future of shopping
The monthly business magazine Condé Nast Portfolio explores what the future holds for shopping now that retailers are hurting and consumers are expected to keep spending tight for 2009.

Portfolio.com takes a look at the phenomenon of “mass customization” — a way of making standard consumer products as customizable as a Facebook page. While Wired.com dives into the DIY subculture, and meets a group of hobbyists who are starting to hack furniture and product design like it was all just so much Unix code.

Portfolio’s Perspective: Custom Everything
by Sara Clemence
What happens when you can design your physical world as easily as you can reformat your blog?

“Bespoke products have always been available to anyone willing and able to pay the price, whether for an individually tailored suit or a customized car. In recent years, one of the big shifts in retail has been giving customers the ability to design their own versions of premium products—like wedding rings, pricey handbags, and Nikes—at prices that are comparable to the regular versions.

Now, without most of us realizing it, we’re on the cusp of another big change. Thanks to market demands and developments in technology, we’re going to be living in a user-generated world, where everything we use can (and will) be customizable. It’s already happening, in ways both obvious and not.”

Wired’s Perspective: In-Home Manufacturing
by Jennifer Kahn
Some are already designing a future where physical objects can be downloaded — just as software is today.

“As computer-aided design has become more accessible, the tools for fabrication have also become cheaper. New “desktop” 3-D printers now cost $5,000, while the price of a water-jet cutter—capable of slicing any material, from glass to marble, to tolerances of a hundredth of an inch—has fallen by half. […]

If everyone has access to computer-controlled machine tools and advanced 3D printers, why ship an item from manufacturing plant to customer? Why not just fabricate the object near home, on demand?”

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