Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Victor Papanek

Victor Papanek



|Views: 687|Likes:
Published by api-27137261

More info:

Published by: api-27137261 on Jan 09, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF or read online from Scribd
See more
See less


Catherine McDermott has a dream. She says: “I’d like NelsonMandela to ring up Gordon Brown and say: ‘We’ve got some seriousproblems here in Jo’burg, Gordon. I need you to send over a squad ofyour best designers and I need them now.’”The idea of an A-Team-style crack unit of designers, distinguished by
their unique skill set and black polo-neck sweaters, being own out to
deal with disasters across the globe sounds ludicrous.But that, says McDermott, professor in the school of design atKingston University, is exactly the point. “We have Médecins SansFrontières, so why not Designers Sans Frontières?”McDermott’s dream is not as daft as it sounds.In New York, theSmithsonian Institute has just run an exhibition called Design For TheOther 90%, inspired by the thought that most designers on Earthdevelop products and services for the wealthiest 10% of the popula-tion and that a design revolution is needed to reach the other 90%.The exhibition showcased the kind of things that had already beendone:
ceramic water lters, solar-powered hearing aid batteries and a
simple treadle pump which helps farmers access groundwater in thedry season.
Isn’t it time to stop designingstuff that destroys the planet?
Global warming is the ultimate challenge fordesigners but, Paul Simpson says it reopensa debate about socially responsible designthat dates back to William Morris.
It’s easy to be inspired by the simple genius of these creations. ButMcDermott’s response is: “That’s good but we need to be more am-bitious, it’s not enough.” Not enough, certainly, to placate those whosay that designers — as the intelligent, creative folk they are — mustunderstand not only the social and environmental dangers facing theplanet but also that they are actually making it worse.The indictment of design is remarkable for two reasons. First, the fe-rocity of the language. “Designers suck,” Bruce Nussbaum, BusinessWeek’s innovation and design guru declared in a recent lecture whichasked: “Are designers the enemy of design?” The sparky youngBritish designer Jonathan Barnbrook even declared in a poster:“Designers are falling over themselves to kiss corporate ass.”The other striking aspect of this attack is that the most vitriolicremarks are coming from designers such as Barnbrook and experts,such as Nussbaum, who usually champion the industry.The rap sheet against design has many offences to be taken into con-sideration. The most grievous charge is, to quote Nussbaum, “thatdesigners design crap that hurts the planet”. They have also, it isargued, not adjusted to the democratisation of design, preferring todesign for, rather than with, people.Finally, it is alleged that designers have not — despite the inspiringexamples on show in Design For The Other 90% — been as sociallyinclusive in their work as they could be.The clunky, slightly worthy term to describe how the industry shouldbehave is ‘socially responsible design’. There is, critics suggest, fartoo much socially irresponsible design. Many designers would agreewith that.
‘Sustainability has been driven by organisations, some frms and
inspirational individuals. Designers need to be more ambitious’
 —Catherine McDermott, Design lecturer
The tension between ethics and design is as old as the industry. Butbehind the abuse is an opportunity: for designers to use their creativ-ity, originality and strategic thinking to help the world, not harm it.“So far, sustainability has been driven by institutions (especially theEuropean Union and the state of California) and a few inspirational in-dividuals and companies acting on rational economic grounds,”saysMcDermott. Almost everyone believes designers should take a lead. The question,which has bedevilled the industry since the 1840s, is how this is to beachieved.The industrial revolution made Britain the workshop of the world butthe social cost of this economic miracle was condemned in CharlesDickens’s Hard Times (1854), a state of the nation novel set in theimagined yet grimily realistic Victorian town of Coketown.Dickens’s outrage was shared by John Ruskin who, in his book TheStones Of Venice (1853), drew a direct connection between art, natureand morality. To Ruskin, moral art was nature expressed through man;machines dehumanised the worker and “all cast from the machine isbad, as work it is dishonest”.William Morris turned Ruskin’s ideas about nature, art, morality and
the degradation of human labour into a unied theory of design that
became a manifesto for the Arts and Crafts movement. Victoriandesign was, at its worst, characterised by an over the top ornamentalstyle, an early form of bling if you like, which Morris loathed.

Activity (27)

You've already reviewed this. Edit your review.
1 hundred reads
1 thousand reads
neva_siempre2010 liked this
neva_siempre2010 liked this
neva_siempre2010 liked this
neva_siempre2010 liked this
neva_siempre2010 liked this
neva_siempre2010 liked this

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->