“Marx is trying to possibility of understanding artistic production to specific historical conditions existing in specific capitalist societies. Understanding is depending upon economic or class position. “

I really like the example used in Barnard’s book “Visual Culture”. It said,

The production and consumption of printed and plain cotton textiles in eighteenth century England, for example, is understood in terms of industrial processes, economic class and social status. In the eighteenth century, printed cottons were popular with middle- and upper-class women. They were relatively expensive, owing to the production methods used, and seen as fashionable and affordable by these high-status women. With the expansion, and mechanization, of the Lancashire cotton industry, printed cotton became cheaper and more easily affordable to working-class women. As a consequence, the middle- and upper-class women started wearing plainer, more expensive cotton dresses, in order to distinguish themselves from their inferiors.

As Marx says,

it is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.

Think about this in HCI field. Social position of men allows them to appreciate products based on their economic status. Designers need to think about the user’s economic affordability based on their class position. People from different classes definitely have different needs.

Hippo Water Rollers Project is about “to improve access to clean water for rural and impoverished households by means of appropriate technologies including the Hippo Water Roller, consequently improving their quality of life and economic prospects.” THE HIPPO WATER ROLLER, is a barrel-shaped container which holds 90 liters / 24 gallons of water and rolls along the ground, with a handle attached to the axis of the barrel. In this design, the hippo water roller is exact need for African people who have low access to clean water. If we think about designing a water faucet, it is a completely wrong choice.

And also another example is in Hong Kong with high-pressure in home-space. For people in lower class they have very tight budget on buying house, and usually they own tiny apartment with small space. So the following video shows how designer transforms a tiny apartment into 24 rooms. I believe this design only fit such social situation, not in large house.