Atrocities of Design "In the Name of the Earth"

In light of the LAPPYglove posted on Core this morning, and the results of the largely worthless Greener Gadgets Design Competition, I have devoted this post to the truly hideous crimes of design committed by those who create trash from trash in an effort to make themselves appear green.

We know the philosophy, recycle, reuse, reduce. But how many designers are only delaying the inevitable by polluting the market with products that are poorly designed, ugly, and uninspiring? Sooner or later it will end up in the landfill (more likely sooner than later). Or a bonfire for those too eager to rid the world of its existence.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. But let’s call it what it is: another man’s trash. Has aesthetics, a guiding principle in matters of artistic beauty and taste, lost its place as a rule of good design?

Here’s the link the the LAPPYglove:

http://www.amplesample.net/2008/detail/lappyglove/

And who could forget the mismatched table leg high heels from the London Design Festival, ever-present in Core’s photo gallery?

Post your atrocity.

I saw the lappy glove today and thought it was hideous. Is the end result supposed to be that we all end up looking homeless chic? Is anyone seriously going to tote their laptop in a carpet sample?

What really needs to happen in order to achieve a balance in terms of eco friendly vs. consumerism is further innovation of raw materials and processes. A new form of plastic that is durable enough, cheap enough, and breaks down or recycles easily without much pollution would go a long way. I know there are some out there already but it is still mostly cost prohibitive.

As a designer you naturally want the end result of your product development to look great. A consumer wants the same thing, a great looking and perfectly functional product. We won’t get there with old milk jug vases or old tire floormats. All the haphazard chairs that look like a Frankenstein nightmare from the Milan Design Week posts are terrible as well. People simply will not buy something that looks like it came from a dumpster. I think the most successful eco friendly products will be the ones that don’t actually look eco friendly.

Of course I could be completely wrong. It happens. :slight_smile:

Just a couple of things to note on the webpage for the lappy-sack:

  1. No comments on the site yet.
  2. It’s rating is 2 1/8 stars out of 5.

Having said that…I think it’s kinda cool. I would never buy or use one, but who cares.

I think that there is a place for recycled projects in design. If nothing else, it’s a fun school project. However, I hope that most people face the music and realize that these will never be much more than a niche. To really help the environment, we need to do more.

Although, now that I think of it…can we as designers? Let’s take a couple examples:

Me: I’ve designed lighting, heaters and thermostats for the last five years. These products, from my experience, will be used for 10-20 years, at least. If recycling facilities existed, it would help at the end of the life cycle. However, is there much I can do here? The necessities of lean production mean we are already cutting way down on scrap versus the past. New construction, for a growing population, demands more heating and lighting. Am I part of a problem? I don’t think so.

Shoe designers: I pick on these guys, because I did do a couple skates a long time ago. It seems easy to pick on shoes, because the turn over is so huge. However, how much waste is caused here?

I know greenies will say it’s horrible that in place of wearing a pair of shoes for ten years and having the soles replaced, we’re pitching a pair of running shoes in the garbage every year. BFD. Certainly there is a cost, but shouldn’t we enjoy life a little here? There are certainly far more polluting and wasteful things to do than buy a new pair of trainers.

So to conclude, designers aren’t responsible, and we can only push on our little square of influence to make things better. Enjoy.