The first wave of customization in design began in late ’80s and early ’90s from Creo Interactive, which customizes digital solutions for brands, and the second round from 1998 to 2002 with the Internet economy focused on client experience.
Companies like Nike iD, which originally just wanted an online retail service, got the ball rolling with its bespoke athletic shoes.
Here in the third wave of mass customization, according to “The Customization 500,” the first global benchmarking study on mass customization and personalization in consumer e-commerce (2012), companies are offering design, manufacturing and retail capacity to everyone.
We’re wondering how well our surfers are doing and what tools exist today.
Say No to Naked Furniture
Customization moved from online branding to digital printing on basic products, and even became prevalent in the fashion industry—but today we’re seeing such solutions in furniture design as well. Inspired by the pioneering Nike iD platform, founder and CEO of Swedish design studio Hem, Jason Goldberg, initiated an online system for clients to configure their own designs.
“A couple of years ago we looked at Nike iD,” Goldberg said in an interview with Dezeen. “We said, ‘If people can design their own sneakers, then why can’t they design their own wardrobe or dresser or lighting?’”
In parallel to Hem, well-known French designer Philippe Starck launched TOG (2014), another online design brand that offers customizable products. According to Starck, mass customization offers lower costs and less waste compared to traditional manufacturing: “With one mold, with one chair, every chair can be totally different. Anybody can do that.”
With the recent disappearance of Hem’s “Design Your Own” tab and TOG’s rather complicated website, are consumers left with only color and material choice to customize their furniture?
“TOG’s products also appear in conventional furniture stores. What’s more, the process of buying and/or customizing online is opaque and mystifying,” wrote Frame Magazine.