The research came about after working on a one-week project for the platform “Design as Catalyst” in the Design Products department at the Royal College of Art. The brief was to design a system or product that requires balance to work. My project centred on a concept I have always been fascinated with: the construction of the relationship between an idol and a fan, and the imbalance and one-sidedness within it. This interest derived from my own experience, as I used to be a fan. I therefore designed Ultimate Merchandise for Justin Bieber fans to explore whether a product could help redress the balance, or create a greater imbalance within this relationship.
In my dissertation I researched the relationship between Justin Bieber and his Beliebers a little deeper. Justin Bieber is a product of the contemporary era: made by his fans and smartly marketed back to them by producers. As a product designer, I find this fascinating. Justin Bieber can be considered a very popular and desirable product that is able to achieve a strong connectedness and intimacy with consumers from a distance. On a macro level, throughout this research I aim to understand more about different systems of product design and how products represent society. The product is only the physical manifestation of its social systems. I explored how the construction of the celebrity functions on different levels. I tried to take the concept apart as a culturally fabricated product and to understand the systems behind it. Why do we need idols? What do they mean? Who or what is assigning it meaning?