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 →
Knowledge work is not about theory, tools, methodologies, training or any such thing. It is about attitudes of individuals forming teams. Read the post Quiet is the New Loud.
Riitta Raesmaa | Startup Entrepreneur from Helsinki, Finland | I blog about both personal and professional topics: Entrepreneurship, Technology, Social Business/Enterprise 2.0, Social Media, Cloud, SaaS, Books, Design. Or refer to what my wise friends have written.
Always in Beta. And passionately so.
Excerpts: 1/ We have unforeseen number of software tools and technologies available to support these flows. Still it is primarily not about the tools and processes. Most of all it is about an attitude – an attitude of the individuals forming a team, working group, or an organization.
2/ “Systems Intelligence (SI) involves the ability to use the human sensibilities of systems and reasoning about systems in order to adaptively carry out productive actions within and with respect to systems.”
Two new words have entered the ever-growing repository of adjectives that are prefixed to INNOVATION – “reverse” and “catalytic”.
I have a problem with the word “Reverse” for its connotation; first we were called an underdeveloped nation, later to be euphemistically toned down to ‘developing’. (Reverse has to have originated in the West’s lexicon to mean backward – pun intended).
Google Search for Reverse Innovation
Catalytic Innovation however, for me, has some very insightful and valuable realities attached to it. Continue reading →