Feminine Hard Drive?

Here’s ‘Costume‘ – a concept design for a 2.5″ hard disk drive by designer Joongoo Lee, which obviously takes inspiration from ladies accessories, specifically the compact powder case. While the Samsung mark is on the product, this is almost certainly not really from Samsung design.

Diane from Popgadget (a blog dedicated to technology from a feminine perspective) here mistook it for an official Samsung idea – but it’s interesting to see her reaction to this product:

…Samsung has designed a concept compact hard drive that looks similar to a piece of make-up – and this picture shows it surrounded by make-up, to prove the point. You know, ‘cos we women are so crazy about cosmetics, we’ll buy anything if it looks like we can paint our faces with it.

So far though, this is just a concept – and maybe it should stay that way. I think the design is sleek and all, but I don’t agree with making tech designs gender specific. (Don’t small, sleek designs appeal to men, too?)

As a (male) designer, this is often a question that I ponder too. While I think simply ‘pinkifying’ a gadget is superficial, I can’t help but wonder if it (sometimes?) works. When designing a functionally neutral object (e.g. a hard disk drive) is there really no gap between male and female’s preferences? If there are (I think there are) – what are they (or what are they likely to be)?


2 comments so far

  1. lingmiester on

    It has to really depend if it fits the user’s (in this case a lady)needs.

    Many mistake pinkifying as a relation to form, when in reality women love gadgets as much as men.

  2. Gems Sty on

    Hi lingmiester,

    For obviously gendered products (e.g. clothes) the answer is clear-cut – man and women have different shapes and needs, and thus the clothing responds to be more suited for either sex.

    In a more functionally gender-neutral products (e.g. hard disk drives), this difference becomes less clear-cut, because by simplistic observation both sexes appear to use it the same way (e.g. plug it into the socket).

    The question then is – if one day a client say ‘I need to develop a portable hard disk drive targeting at women only’, will it lead to a consistently different product from what would have resulted if the client simply said ‘I need to develop a portable hard disk drive’?

    And if so – what are the differences?

    The knee-jerk reaction in design are often some form of pinkifying, whether it is literally pink or not. For instance, it may be softer and rounder. Designers may take a cue from other so-called ‘feminine’ products. Heck, they may even literally slap it in pink. The questions in my head continue – ‘it doesn’t mean that females must use/prefer feminine products!’.

    But can it go beyond that?

    Of course on the bigger picture, if we look beyond the simplistic definition of usage and move on to the way a person relates to a product, we *might* see a difference. I’d stereotype an example: guys may tend to associate their HDD as storage capacity (“I’ve got a 120GB hard disk. What’s yours?”) while women may associate it more qualitatively, as a portal to store memories of their lifestyle (e.g. vacation videos). Maybe that was where Seagate FreeAgent was heading with a more human and qualitative take on HDD.

    So, in the post and in this comment, I’m just throwing the thoughts in my head out (a little messily), and wondering if anyone has any experience or insight to share when developing ‘female versions’ of products.

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