Designing stupidity? Thankfully not everybody!

After my recent rant on how some companies continue to generate needless wants and fuel consumerism, I was not surprised to see a growing back lash towards designers like Philip Starck, who are guilty of creating overprices products that may look great but essentially hollow ad meaningless.

“I design useless Christmas gift… That’s why don’t ask me to be proud or to be interested in what I do. I am so ashamed of what I do…”
~Philip Starck, Via Core77 from Icon Magazine

Such over-designed or over-styling design philosophy has always been a thorn on my side especially being a designer from Asia. On one hand you need to feed yourself and your family, by doing a good job in churning out, as Philip Starck does, products that are essentially the same as everyone else but just look a lot better. On the other, struggling to overcome the biggest problem in Industrial Design today and that is creating products that stop problem solving.
A few months ago, I was at the London’s Designer Block, one of the biggest mistakes I made was to give into exhaustion instead of visiting the “Super Normal” Exhibition by Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison. It was so unfortunate but I was traveling everywhere by foot, and in my 4 days there I just did not get the time.
Fortunatly the gallery who hosted the exhibition, twentytwentyone, had the foresight to put some images of the exhibition online to continue the discussion. After looking at the site, I know I should have gone, as I think in a time of excess and products generating over-consumption, this exhibition was a breath of fresh air.
With my Asian manufacturing roots firmly ingrained in my mind, the nature of the products shown was to me a powerful shock. I at first could not understand why, but after thinking about it. I found its impact was not so much about its design, though simple or some may argue the lack of it, but many of the products exhibited were inventions, products that fulfill a need or a solved a problem that people had. Though not all the products exhibited were products that solved problems, but most of the products emphasized a certain normality in their form. This normality emphasized the fact the object did the job with out any fuss and did it well. So well it was beyond normal or “super normal”.
There is a whole write up on the thinking behind this exhibition, if you are interested to know more. Now let’s enjoy some of the images relevant to my discussion from their exhibition and gallery.
A bicycle
An ice-cream stick
A magnifying Glass and paper clips
Pencil Sharpner and Thermomitor
A tea and water jug
Paper clip, a mile bottle, bicycle etc. I think this is in essence the significant difference between the products on display and the rest of the London Design Festival’s myriad of over styled designer chairs. We seemed to have come full circle. Because of consumer’s mental design overload, they are tired of today’s eye candy, and the old adage of “Form follows Function” is the now new new.

  • zapatos de mujer

    October 21, 2008 at 11:52 pm Reply

    there are many thing averybody thinks are stupid, and probably today is like this, but we dont know what aplications those things will have in the futur.
    most of the stuff today we use at home, in hospitals and other important places years ago were only stupid creations of people that everybody thoght crazy

  • Design Translator

    January 28, 2007 at 6:12 pm Reply

    Very very true. Sigh sometime designers tend to flutter up in the air and dream of a utopia! I know I get into these modes.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  • blackpot

    January 28, 2007 at 2:33 pm Reply

    but seriously, who designs stuff that problem solves nowadays? All electronics design are guilty of the charge as mentioned. One technology, many pretty shells.

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