Friday, November 28, 2008

Sustainability and Accessibility

A ubiquitous theme of sustainability and accessibility can be found in most my work up to this point. I am fascinated by the way design can affect people and the impact it can have on the world. There is so much more to design, I feel, that making sophisticated looking products. As designers we have the amazing prospect to change not only the way the world is seen, but also the way it is interacted with.

One of the reasons I chose industrial design and am so passionate about it is, I feel, it provides the most opportunity to make changes and impact the world in a positive way. As opposed to other majors, such as any of the fine art disciplines or most other design majors, the focus on functionality and improvement of the existing conditions of today is paramount in industrial design. It is the fixing of the current problems of today that sets it apart from every other major; in this way it is selfless in nature and is primarily about the user. The personal subjective opinions of the designer often take a back seat to the factual information, understanding, and observations that are so imperative when designing a product.

I am quite sure I am not the only one who is fed up by the current state of the industrially made object. Planned obsolescence has been elevated to a cultural norm, brought on by big corporations. People have become so accustomed to just throwing away old products and then buying new, slightly updated ones. This mentality is entirely spawned by industry and the desire for blind economic growth. A perfect example is the iPod. Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, suggested that "If you always want the latest and greatest, then you have to buy a new iPod at least once a year." This mentality is not only concerned with technical improvements, but also with aesthetics. This is especially apparent in the fashion industry. New styles come out every season, but the shirt and the dress haven’t changed, functionally speaking, since early civilizations have been sewing and hand stitching. This outlook and mindset is horribly unsustainable and unbalanced. It places economic gain before the well being of the environment and the people that a prospering economy is supposed to benefit.

It seems clear that there currently exists a cultural tradition, brought on by industry, which places a high value on the possession of material things and a relatively low value on the natural world. This way of thinking needs to change and a balance needs to be achieved in order to maintain life as we know it on this earth. Industrial designers have the power to change the way people view the world, and can create a new paradigm through which people live their lives.

1 comment:

sweetweb said...

This post is exactly why I created A community for sharing industrial/product design to change the world.