Now is the opportunity for designers to use the power of design, not just to improve lifestyles but also to practice design in a way that balances social and environmental interests.
Advertising Design – the phoniest of them all
From an excellent post by Brian Ling suggesting design freedom + designer responsibility. He makes a strong point with the following from Victor Papanek’s Design For The Real World —
There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a very few of them. And possibly only one profession is phonier. Advertising design, in persuading people to buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, in order to impress others who don’t care, is probably the phoniest field in existence today. Industrial design, by concocting the tawdry idiocies hawked by advertisers, comes a close second. Never before in history have grown men sat down and seriously designed electric hairbrushes, rhinestone-covered file boxes, and mink carpeting for bathrooms, and then drawn up elaborate plans to make and sell these gadgets to millions of people. Before (in the ‘good old days’), if a person liked killing people, he had to become a general, purchase a coal-mine, or else study nuclear physics. Today, industrial design has put murder on a mass-production basis. By designing criminally unsafe automobiles that kill or maim nearly one million people around the world each year, by creating whole new species of permanent garbage to clutter up the landscape, and by choosing materials and processes that pollute the air we breathe, designers have become a dangerous breed. And the skills needed in these activities are taught carefully to young people.
In an age of mass production when everything must be planned and designed, design has become the most powerful tool with which man shapes his tools and environments (and, by extension, society and himself). This demands high social and moral responsibility from the designer. It also demands greater understanding of the people by those who practise design and more insight into the design process by the public.
(This essay was first published on Egology – The Ideafarms Blog on December 12, 2013)
Last year, Amit Gulati, who runs Incubis Consultants, invited me to participate in an interactive session to think through design ideas for a low-cost washing machine. The workshop brought out some very interesting and fascinating ‘ways of seeing’ that completely overturned the engineering / tech / product way of approaching design problems. Did we need to redesign the washing machine (Product) under stricter constraints [this is the way most people think – start with an existing product, strip it of features, use cheaper materials and processes, reduce quality and make it low-cost], or did we need to go up a level and reframe the problem itself.
Image Courtesy: Incubis Consultants, 2013.
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In the old days — as recently as the dying years of the last century — technology was trying to keep up with our needs. But instead of playing catch up, its pace overtook our needs. In the end, technology, especially those products that were powered by the silicon chip, won the race. Today we have more technology than we need and yet, rather than using what already exists to solve societal problems, we still go after creating more and more technology for the narrowest part of the pyramid – the top. Continue reading →
Ami Kassar is a typical accidental entrepreneur. Kassar had spent a decade in senior management with a large, national credit card company based in Philadelphia. When the recession hit in 2008, he suddenly found himself unemployed. His employer did not survive the recession-induced shakeout in the financial industry.
Entrepreneurs are folks that have no Plan ‘A’. But they have Plans “B-Z”.
Entrepreneurship is no accident. It is a choice. Contrary to popular opinion, choosing to be an entrepreneur is less about being your own boss or enjoying the freedom to come and go to work as you please. Being an entrepreneur, and a successful one at that, needs much more discipline than being in a job. The hardest part is that you have to take responsibility for yourself. It’s much more fun though – the uncertainty of your next paycheck, the fear of something not working, the prospect of keeping your team and partners motivated – and is motivated by the opportunity to make a difference.
Are you an entrepreneur at heart? Jump into the fray. Now is as good a time as any, especially here in India. And if you still have doubts, start by being an entrepreneur in your current role. Don’t wait for instructions. Don’t worry about policy. Don’t cry about the absence of an ecosystem. You have the chance to create an ecosystem that will allow you to grow. Follow your heart and go build the life of your dreams.
This post was first published in January 2009 but has gained renewed relevance in today’s crisis ridden world. It reminds us that too much focus on quantitative metrics can go only one way viz. downwards. (Incidentally, Knowledgeboard has since shut down.)
When I coined the phrase “Heart Capital” a few years ago, I didn’t recognise it’s prophetic undertones. And for those who might want to read my article, here’s the pdf Heart Capital.
The ideas and views regain relevance with today’s ‘communities’ on the collaborative web. (2.0)
To humanise is to recognise that technology cannot replace the charm of personal contact. To humanise is to disrupt current business thinking and methods. To humanise is to add emotion. To humanise is to add fun to work and work systems.
I think the discussion about emotional environment is important; a lot of money goes into trying to create great physical spaces for work (and that’s no bad thing) but the manners and subleties of human contact deserve equal attention.
I would add that as well as being fun, the creation of real “heart capital” requires taking risks and being vulnerable. Acknowledging our true feelings feels risky in many enviroments; yet in my experience it is often a touchstone for deeper and more satisfying human engagement.”
There’s a huge shift in the way India’s budding entrepreneurs are looking at the business of tomorrow. The standard business-plan-must-come-first refrain is fading, at least in the minds of youngsters that are looking more and more to first creating value than simply to make money. And apps seem to be driving their models — mobile apps.