Should Designers be Used by Politicians?

Designer’s Accord statement:

“As we move towards building a more responsible and sustainable future, design’s value is no longer measured in terms of beauty or function. Design is a now a framework for change, used by leaders around the world to solve our planet’s most challenging problems.”

Is this a good idea? I mean, from what I see, everytime business and politics intermingle, one of them comes out tainted. Why are designers so eager to prostitute themselves (for complete lack of a better term) to the whims of sleazy politicians?

Let’s apply the quote above to what’s happening in Venezuela:

  1. No longer are banks measured on their ability to make a profit and pay dividends to loan applicants. Now they are a framework to control the money supply according to the wishes of the State!

  2. No longer are energy companies measured by their ability provide electricity to the population. Now they are a framework for unnecessary power rationing and skyrocketing energy prices!

  3. No longer are media outlets measured by accurate reporting of issues across the country. Now they are a framework for State-contolled information and propaganda!

Historically, designers have been problem solvers. Not so with politicians. Designers know that when you take out everything you can and it still works, it’s a good product. Politicians think that when you can’t add anything else to it and it still doesn’t work, it’s a good product. Designers fix problems before launching the boat. Politicians launch the boat and then try to fix the leaks.

Politicians need to stay the hell out of design!

Perhaps Designers should go into Politics then ?

I was counting down the seconds till someone said that. But that wasn’t my point.

I don’t think I would have the patience to do that :wink:

There was some woman addressing the same thing in the Objectified-documentary.

I do like the idea of (good) designers having an input in more global decision-making.
But I’m not sure if we need the politicians to do it. For me it comes with the fame.
It’s up the the Newsons, Starcks, Lovegroves, Rams, etc to set the example. Many will follow and thus make a difference. The shear number will make a difference. with or without the politicians.

There where some valid points made about this subject in this tread:

which let me to the designer accord:



Maybe trade groups could use designers, but why would you want designers at all in the heart of American politics? Law makers, and representatives have a simple job: we vote them in so that they listen to what people want, and do everything they can to uphold the constitution, maintain a balance between free and fair market, and reduce our debt.

"“As we move towards building a more responsible and sustainable future, design’s value is no longer measured in terms of beauty or function. Design is a now a framework for change, used by leaders around the world to solve our planet’s most challenging problems.”

I wonder if whoever wrote this was referring to global welfare or a green agenda when saying “responsible and sustainable future…our planet’s most challenging problems.” Do policy makers, trade organizations, and big business see us primarily as tools for creating a green world? I don’t think designers are meant to have a survival mentality or to serve politicians (who are actually designers themselves more than they should be IMO). We have the capability of solving much more important problems with products in the American market, and we also have the important capability of helping troubled areas of the world with innovations that politics cannot or will not solve. But then again, in my mind there is nothing morally wrong with doing nothing but designing beautiful Ferrari’s all day long if that is what you want to contribute as a designer.

give me a break! designers should work for everyone who needs them, and we need to encourage this wherever possible to help our profession. I don’t know if I would work for a politician I didn’t agree with, but I fully respect the right of another designer to do so. Our entire modern civilization, going back to 1776, has been founded on the idea of people working for whoever they choose to in exchange for currency, which they can then exchange for the goods and services that they need. We have our problems, but it is the most efficient system that humans have ever devised. It has lifted billions out of poverty and raised billions more to a high level of education and specialization (like us on this board).

Designers entering into public policy is a good idea, but needs to be approached with more caution than the ‘defer judgement’ mentality of IDEO. Unsuccessful product experiments are insignificant compared to the effect of public policy on millions of lives.

I also think designers tend to suffer from elitism, which can be dangerous when combined with power and public policy. On the surface, Hitler, Mao, and Stalin had what sounded like good ideas to many, but hundreds of millions of people were killed to realize those visions.

Very few politicians set out to be pricks, the vast majority want to do the right thing.

The issue is how they decide to act: do they see the donut or the hole in the donut?

The current issues with the US health system is a case in point. No-one wants people to be denied health care, but the issue becomes how- is it better for the state to provide? or individuals to do things for themselves?

Designers can provide both fantastic ‘left wing’ and ‘right wing’ solutions. They are both solutions.

Should designers be used by politicians? All of us are USED by politician… buh duhm duhm. Couldn’t resist.

Could designers offer some creative thinking to some of our cultural issues? Yes.

Could designers be effective in the overbuilt bureaucratic system? Can anyone? With my limited insight into how things work with things like import export duties and tariffs, I can only imagine how complex things are. Think abuout. An entire industry of people has sprouted up over the last 50 years just to help you figure out how much you owe in taxes.

What else works like that?

Imagine for a second, you go to the grocery store to get a carton of milk. When you get to the counter, the cashier asks YOU how much the milk costs. You have to pay a milk costing expert to determine the value of the milk, you do your best, and you pay. 3 years later, the cashier thinks maybe you under paid, and hires an Internal Milk Costing Agent to investigate you. He determines you under paid, and now you are fined or put in jail.

An over simplification, but it just doesn’t make sense. If I was a designer in Washington, I’d want to wipe the chalk board clean and start over. We are paying yo employee people to take value out of our culture instead of add it.


P.S.: Wiping out the chalk board is not legit in Washington. (or Brussels)

Democracy is the politics of compromise.

It’s about deal-making, watering ideas down, giving a bit on A so you can push for B- that’s the strength of the bicameral system which most modern industrialised democracies are. Making deals is better than armed revolts or coups to get what you want.

How does design fit into this system? Can you design like this?

Does marketing say “we’ll let you have the new diesel motor if we can have flames up the side and call it a cross-over”? Does engineering say “it’s too expensive to make it out carbon, if we can use mdf then we’ll have enough money to install seatbelts”?
Does the boss say “I liked the Banana Splits when I was a kid, give it six wheels instead of four and I’ll put a pinball machine in the canteen”?
Does design say “It’s a moped”?

I’d love to wipe out the chalk-board :wink: anywhere