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January 6, 2008
Designing Today for a Very Different Tomorrow: Suggestions for the coming Age of Austerity
Yesterday I wrote despairing that most designers are busy designing products intended to promote consumption and that end up as waste, while all objective indicators signal the need to start designing for a very different future of limits, constraints, and parsimony. Then I came across “Designing Behavior,” a video presentation on on Fora.TV, the outstanding website that features videos of intelligent discourse. The panelists share my concern and describe ways that designers can and are helping people to get ready for the coming Age of Austerity.
“”Designing Behaviour“ was produced at the 2007 Battle of Ideas conference hosted in October by London's Institute of Ideas. Here's the Program Preview. It says it all:
Nowadays, even before designers have put pen to paper, there are growing concerns about the consequences of their work and its effect on society. They are accused of everything from creating too much waste (excess packaging) to fuelling excessive consumption (producing unnecessary gadgets, luxury goods). We are told designers need to rethink their role, ensuring 'products' make a responsible contribution toward the common good, solve social problems, even promote responsible behaviour. Many designers have gone ethical; every designer wants to produce their version of 'I'm not a plastic bag'.
While design has traditionally been about making life better by designing better things, many now argue it also has a duty to promote wellbeing, responsible behaviour, and to make people think rather than just consume. Today there are calls from government, local authorities and policy advocates that designers need to rethink their role, ensuring that 'products' make a responsible contribution toward the common good, by tackling issues from health awareness and rebuilding community to reducing consumption and global warming. -- Institute of Ideas
Okay, so now I'm not quite so despairing. But I remain cautious. The tale will be told in the solutions' execution.
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