Design today

Walking to work today I thought of design today as having three key energies – the technological, the artistic and the social – and that every design project or orientation (curriculum too) as a combination of how each of these is enerised. So in a sense the 1850s to the 1950s is a period when the ‘artistic’ dominated – where you got pronouncements like Morris, Bauhaus and others who talked of need for ‘artists’ to go into ‘industry’ to make things better. From the 50s to the 90s you have the ‘technological’ – where you have Ulm, Dreyfuss and Rams talking about ‘product’ design as a practice where the designer mediated between the maker and the buyer. In this period did the ‘artistic’ survive? Totally – it survived but moved into the realms of furniture or architecture orientated objects – the designers in this cultural cluster had their eyes firmly fixed upon the museums in big cities. From the 90s to now we have the social emerging and I would like to see it dominating – but it struggles with the dormant artistic and technological. The technological masquerades as the social – to win points – by calling itself Service Design. But we know thats that same techno-centric approach – and not genuinely social at all.

So you still have designers – who will pledge themselves to the ‘functional product’ (though now these peope can be seen more and more spouting such ideas in the field ‘interaction’ design).

The question then is how does one marginalise the artistic and the technological – so that design can emerge as the social (which incorporates sustainability and inclusivity which we (I) see as the way forward)?


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