Question of the Week: What are the Responsibilities of Designers Today?
Kenny, a clever chap who is also a chair of his local IDSA student chapter, asked me “What do you think are the responsibilities of designers today?”
I was just about to rattle off the usual expected blurbs, sustainable design, user friendly design, ergonomics etc. But I stopped my self there.
Designers have the power to convince and communicate if they know how. So why not do much more?
Why can’t designers focus on high level product strategies that encourages consumers to reduce consumption? Why must a new product be launched every 6-8 months? Why even have the need for an “Apple Tax“? Why can’t designers work on product ideas that reduce, reuse and recycle? Why can’t designers focus on making products that fit the needs of users so well that none other can better it or consumers don’t see the need to change or upgrade? Why can’t these products be so well designed that it lasts for years? Why can’t designers focus on using unusual and innovative materials that have low carbon footprints? Why cant we just slow down design?
It’s not so much about the best recycling, cradle to cradle strategies etc. we can find, these strategies are getting its day in the sun through great, abet slow, government legislations.
No, at the end of the day it comes back to the consumer, something we can draw similarities to the poaching of endangered animals. Even if the consumer uses exclusively recycled products but does not reduce his/her consumption, the carbon footprint could be far worst that a consumer that has very Zen like habits.
I’m not a dreamer, but a pragmatic dreamer. The business or economics of product development and selling pretty much cancels out a lot of initiatives and efforts by designers looking to make a difference. Fortunately I believe it can be very profitable if only the business leaders knew how or are willing to rethink their strategies, which unfortunately could be worst than moving mountains.
I really look forward to the day we get a Designer as a CEO. I believe it will happen, as it is only a matter of time. Hey, if no body wants the job I don’t mind doing it!
If you are further interested in my thoughts on Sustainable Behaviors, do check out this interview.