Where Is Design Now?


AdSpecs, Zon hearing aid, Gripp glasses
Oxford Centre for Vision in the Developing World, left; Starkey Laboratories, Inc., center; Karin Eriksson, right.From left: Self-adjustable prescriptive eyewear created by Joshua Silver; minimalist hearing aid designed by Stuart Karten; universal-design glassware by Karinlevy Design.
I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing my exploration into some of the projects and designers at the Cooper Hewitt “Why Design Now? exhibit.  There is an active movement rethinking the purpose and role of the designer.  Good design is not only for those who can afford it.  Rather, it should solve problems, and offer betterment, both socially, economically and environmentally.  Creating meaningful objects that solve functional challenges, with an eye to contributing to the greater good, practitioners might design a process, procedure or experience.  Although the focus of the process is not aesthetic, I believe that these solutions should be beautiful.  One of my favorite quotes by R. Buckminster Fuller  states it eloquently:   "When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty, but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong".
The New York Times addressed this topic recently in conjunction with visiting the Design Triennial at the Cooper Hewitt:
"“Why Design Now?” is an important show because design is in a strange place… "It’s a dilemma closely mirroring that of the larger American economy, which has been shifting steadily from manufacturing to service."  www.nytimes.org  
Design schools such a Stanford University are offering curricula in Design Thinking philosophy that moves away from traditional approaches to design creating multidiciplinary innovation. Progressive organizations like Emily Pilloton's Project H Design, which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, teaches Design Thinking to high school students, fundamentally changing the culture and community in which they live.
It has been said that  “Kids today don’t care about the big house, the big salary. At the heart of their value system is ‘I want to make a difference.’”    www.nytimes.org
I believe those words are the catapult for change.


images/excerpts courtesy of www.cooperhewitt.org

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