Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Responsibility, Innate Creativity and the Masses

As designers, we create product architecture, imbuing each of them with the pieces of ourselves in the process. We create items that, ideally, make lives "better" whether that be more efficient, cleaner, simpler (read: less wasteful), more comfortable and at the end of the road, altogether a more interesting day-to-day experience. We put sentience into our objects, we give them form, flow, malleability, adaptability, aesthetic characteristics and an opportunity for everyone from buyers to users the ability to use something as, as it were,
their own.

So, we make nice things. And we're nice people. Nice people making nice things for more nice people. Nice people making nice things to make more nice people happy. And for the people who aren't nice or happy, we design so that we cause these people to see how nice our things are, use them and, by means of this, become happy. In the end, us nice people are happy makers of nice things for more nice people who are all nice and happy. Finally, a unifying theory!

Yes, and in comes marketing. Marketing shows us what's new, beautiful, special and especially what we don't yet have. So marketing steps up and hits a collective home-run in the name of showing everyone (nice and non-nice people) what's now available to make their lives even more beautiful, efficient, simpler, comfortable and interesting.

And there's no question. Us happy designers want people to see what we've created for them, in the name of ourselves, expressing our values, the things inside us, come full circle into each creative and mechanical step behind our objects. And this is the happiness and effort and honesty with which we will imbue each and every thing we make so that you, the user, will see these qualities and in you, their reflection. We will make honest and beautiful and interesting products because we are honest and beautiful and interesting and you will see these products and know that you too are honest and beautiful and interesting. You will see your capacity as an individual gain strength and importance with your fellow happy, honest and interesting peers as they too are happy, honest and beautiful, not to mention interesting. In the end, we have given the world beauty by means of honesty and selflessness and you drink from this refreshing, cold tap because you too are honest and selfless.

After all is said and done, we seek your association with us, with one another, through the intermediary of things created, shared, exhibited and made for you to buy and own. Designers seek to express unique qualities via their ideas and the things they create and in doing so, nudge a shift in the collective parallax. Designers do not intend to make that perspective identical; designing for fish in a proverbial barrel is too easy: this is herd design.

Though pure from thought to intent, from mind to hand, design's genesis quickly fades to the machinations of the herd: mass production, mass marketing and mass consumers bleating for what's next. In the end, no parties remain happy. Or nice. Ironically, dashing from one thing to another, we come to collectively lack the efficiency, cleanliness and comfortability embodied by simple, malleable and interesting things. Herein lies the dichotomy of design.

From here to there,