David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Wed 30 Apr 08 06:56
I think new professional organizations are probably in order. I can't imagine, for example, the AIGA or the Graphic Artists' Guild advocating the radical choice Jet suggested (don't do a print piece, do something online) as opposed to the incremental choice I suggested (just make recycled/fsc certified paper part of the assumption). Although it does entertain me to think about forming a radical splinter group of the AIGA. I'm curious whether you think there are any parallels to, say, LEED ND or even regular LEED and Alexander's "a pattern language" -- he advocated many of the same approaches (at least in terms of thinking of house/neighborhood as a system that needs to work well together) and approaches cult status in some small communities -- but is largely ignored otherwise. Are these LEED programs destined for the same fate? I guess my strategy question is -- how do we make these part of a general cultural assumption, not just a smaller community of true believers?
I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Wed 30 Apr 08 09:25
I think part of it is education of both consumers and designers. I'm considering buying up all the used copies of "How Things Don't WOrk" or "Design for the Real World" and giving them to students and friends. A working group within the AIGA or IDSA could be really interesting, especially if the group starts calling for major changes in how designers practice.
David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Wed 30 Apr 08 10:50
I wonder if there's some historic precedent for that, in any of the design fields or in others (medical, maybe?). It'd be interesting to see how it happened.
And now with my official Inkwell hat on (davadam) Wed 30 Apr 08 10:52
We're turning our Inkwell spotlight to a new conversation today, so I'd like to thank Ann and Jet for leading us for a fascinating couple of weeks. I'm going to have to go back and follow up on all of the interesting spurs and links. Just because we're focused on a different conversation doesn't mean this one has to end, though. You're welcome to stick around and chat as long as you like.
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 30 Apr 08 11:35
Lots of great ideas to chew on here. Thanks so much !
Ann Thorpe (ann-thorpe) Wed 30 Apr 08 14:16
Hey, Ive really enjoyed it and would like to thank everyone for participating. Ill keep checking back over the coming weeks, but probably not with daily frequency like I have been. Re professional organizations evidence it that many people agree with David in that new professional organizations are probably in order. Were seeing a lot of new ones spring up along the lines of The Designers Accord, Design21, Architecture 2030, Architecture for Humanity and so forth (Ive got more listed here http://www.designers-atlas.net/weblinks.html and Im always looking to add to the list). None of these represent a design discipline across a range of professional issues, but they all capture some element of social or environmental design that seems to be slipping through the cracks in the mainstream orgs. Maybe this is the way it will continue.. As Jet points out (eg Design for the Real World--1971), none of this is new, and graphic designers put forth what seems to be one of the first manifestos of discontent back in 1964 (which was renewed in 2000). I wrote about some of these manifestos in my design activism blog (http://designactivism.net/?p=36). It strikes me that IDSA (industrial designers), which has its environment section and AIA (architects) which has its committee on the environment (COTE) are both very active. They may have even been radical 8 or 9 years ago, but now they are becoming somewhat mainstream. But some of the designers active in those committees are probably starting to ask some of the same question we are about resetting the defaults in design practice. On the other hand, one does wonder how these big professional organizations which have been built entirely around corporate (commercial) models of design can really take the lead in looking beyond that, in the same way that a lot of the leading/elite design schools I mentioned here in London are not looking beyond their conventions. But perhaps some of the changes in the prof. org.s will be driven by member chapters that do take more radical actions and then lobby for more of that at higher levels.
Ann Thorpe (ann-thorpe) Wed 30 Apr 08 14:47
Parallels with a pattern language? I suppose yes and no. It does seem that a pattern language has gained a broader audience than it used to have, but at the same time these concepts (such as long life loose fit or urban context and access or collective wisdom and feedback loops) remain great ideas that are, for a variety of reasons, difficult to pull off, particularly at a frenzied commercial pace. So they remain peripheral in that way until theres a more seismic shift. But I think now that we have more of a perceived emergency with climate change, all of this will stick a little better. It may hurry the seismic shift, I just worry that there will too much of a focus on the technical and the hardware and not enough on the software of people and economy. As an aside, theres been a renewed pattern language developed in the northwest for a conservation economy (theres that word again) based on the work of Ecotrust in Portland, (http://www.conservationeconomy.org/). They say, fifty-seven patterns provide a framework for an ecologically restorative, socially just, and reliably prosperous society. But regarding setting a new default position, I think it is the big question that has no silver bullet answer. One could say you do it one project at a time. I guess my broken record message is you do it by using the whole economy push commerce and finance out of the drivers seat and balance it with civil society and government policy. This message is hard for designers because they dont think it concerns them or see how they can have a role in it but they have a fundamental role. Also, its hard to say this in an American context and be heard or understood. Perhaps partly because of the pervasive free market ideology that doesnt tolerate values (except its own) in the system; perhaps since the American dream is built more on robber baron than communitarian?
Cupido, Ergo Sum (robertflink) Thu 1 May 08 12:46
>So maybe corporations can't change, but consumers can change their decision making processes and at least create a new market for local/slow business? Does the question become how to get the designers out of the corporations and design firms and on the ground with the people they're actually designing for?< Is the question more to do with implementation with the world as is where is? As noted earlier, is skillful implementation more important than great ideas or design? The current world is very much the result of development effort. It is very difficult to see the future world coming without similar development effort.
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