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Positivity – Design as a solution, rather than a problem.

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There were interesting discussions after last nights tutorial in which I played a rather bumbling and inept facilitator.  There’s been quite an emphasis up to this point in the course of where design has gone wrong, and how it’s not addressing the needs of us pesky humans and our equally pesky Earth and how that that’s alright because DA’s are here now and we’ll make the world a better place.

Yeah I being facetious, but I still want to remind those in the UX/DA field that there ARE designers out there that fully realise that compared to Natures 4 billion years of ‘design” expertise (yeah I know Nature doesn’t ‘design things, lack of conscious intent, and all that), we’re all pretty much neophytes in this whole ‘design’ caper.

If I put on my tin foil hat and project myself 100, 200 years into the future, I can easily imagine a built world closer to Natures’ systems, simply because we will have the technology to do so, and because deep down, all designers know that if Nature already has a solution, then it’s more than likely the best one.

Of course the hazy grey areas are in systems and products where there is little equivalent in nature, or where biomimetics can only inform the product, and the much much greyer (some might say, perhaps, ‘black helmeted’) area of those designers firmly rooted in the ‘Designer as God’ paradigm, the ones that are ego driven, pro-patriarchal, pro-consumption and conservative by nature.

There’s gobs of evidence that Design up until this point has been largely existing in an environment where it’s all been about a post-industrial ‘revolution’, consumerist ego-trip.  Build it and they will come, build it because we can, and damn the rest.  But this is painting design as the problem, not the solution.  It’s overly simplistic to assume that design is only about control over our environment, of ‘beating’ Nature, as if it was some contest.  Okay, so we can’t all live in caves, so what’s next?  Well, we could grow our own houses, but unfortunately all we’ve got is some trees, rocks, calcium carbonate, and there’s some new fangled thing involving making dirt really hot and making something that looks like a kid at the Cubist School for Higher Learning was drawing a stick.

So, we’re not perfect, but we’re all making do with what we’ve got, until we get to the point where we can make something like a house in the best possible way, in every respect.  As well as Nature could – or as close as we can get at the time.  Again, we can’t all go back and live in caves and hunt deer, so the question is….what’s next? And how do we get there?

It’s no surprise to most of my friends that my existence up to this point has been firmly in the realm of the glass being half empty (and maybe also a bit cracked).  Even in these early days of my DA course, it’s been a hugely positive experience, and I can see this course becoming hugely popular, if for no other reason that it begins to map out a positive road forward for designers disenfranchised by the current state-of-play.  Design is broken, but design is also the fixer.  If anything, design has just been a victim of its own success.  The Industrialists played to the Creatives soft underbelly, and we rolled over and got a good tickle, and enjoyed it a bit too much to the point where we’ve now woken up and gone “Hang on a minute…..”


Stay positive, brothers and sisters!


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