I hate being ahead of a trend…just read this article on the Guardian website that reminded me of this thread:
“Designs for life won’t make you living”
Yes, we are making too much junk:
These days, there is so much emerging talent that companies flit from one hot young designer to the next on a yearly basis. In the fashion-driven novelties market, product cycles are becoming shorter and shorter – another reason why the royalty system (the designer gets 3% of the wholesale price) doesn’t pay off. Eero Saarinen, designer of the classic Tulip chairs for Knoll in the 1950s, made only five chairs in his career, and all are still in production. The Munich-based superstar Konstantin Grcic can boast that many this year alone (if you include a stool and a sofa).
And, yes, it is hurting our profession:
In the endless exhibition halls at the Rho fairgrounds, 2,700 furniture brands exhibited their wares over half a million square metres. Many of these lamps, chairs and tables are prototypes produced by designers for free in the hope they will make their money back in royalties. Only the lucky few ever do. I spoke to one young designer who has five items in production with a respected Italian manufacturer – no small achievement. “My royalty cheque last year came to €600,” he said. “Half a month’s rent.”
Now, the question is, what can we do? Personally, I think that we need to stand up for our value. We should encourage young designers to not accept these conditions & help them.
I’ve recently changed my avatar to a luddite breaking a weaving machine. Perhaps our profession needs to do a little “creative destruction” to move on. We’ve built up these luxury salons around the theory of a few strong personalities. Can we build something around the ideas of design process, consideration for the environment and users?
Mind you, I’m a lowly designer working in Montreal (design equivalent to BFE, in spite of whatever international award the city may be awarded this year). However, I don’t work for free and I make enough to pay my rent. I kind of feel the same way about this as I do when I see a footballer get injured. No matter how much I care, I am on the outside of this tragedy. However, as John Donne wrote:
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.