Reconstructing Meaning without Redesigning Products: The Case of the Serie7 Chair

Marta Gasparin*, William Green

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


What constitutes product value has traditionally been attributed to aesthetics, elicitation of emotions, quality and style. The design-driven innovation literature, instead, suggests that meanings are sought and designed as a way to deliver value to customers; however, it infers that product meanings evolve when a product is redesigned. What happens to product meanings when products have not been redesigned but have remained successful in the market over a number of decades? This study identifies how meanings attached to long-lasting products have changed in spite of a consistent form and shape. Using actor-network theory (ANT) as an analytical framework to understand the relationship between meaning and the materiality of the object, an ethnography of the Serie7 chair was conducted. Weekly site visits, formal and informal interviews were coupled with observations and supplemented with 60 years of historical information. We contribute to the innovation literature by demonstrating the importance of materiality in constructing product meaning over long periods. We analysed the Serie7 in four different periods of its life, looking at meaning of the chair at the time, and how management proposed new meanings through a translation process, connecting otherwise disconnected elements.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCreativity and Innovation Management
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)401-413
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

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