Just wanted to throw something out for discussion.
I was thinking about how resources will get more rare in the future and how this would affect our profession. I was looking at other designed things and started thinking about how most buildings (in certain countries) require an environmental impact study in order to prove the creation of the building will not harm the environment (at least that is what it claims to do).
As resources become scarce will the same thing happen to the design of products? Will a study be required where actual need by other humans will have to be proved, in order for “the world” to allow a company to create another product? Will the company be required to remove a product for each new one they add? Other thoughts along this line of thinking?
Might as well discuss it now, so that we have some ideas for the future.
I don’t think that an impact study will be required for design because of economics, politics and the increasing sophistication of production.
The economic and political reasons are that with the nearly global market, such a rule would be difficult to enforce. If the US passes such a law, what will they do about imports? How will different countries judge the studies. What happens if Germany says it needs a product, but France says it doesn’t. Will they block imports to discourage the manufacturer? It’s difficult to enforce and probably political suicide too.
On the other hand, as production becomes more automated and streamlined, the impact of products will drop. Take a look at today’s commodity prices. Even with a US recession, they are still commanding record prices. Manufacturers will be forced to reduce their use because of economic pressures as well as environmental. This will naturally reduce the impact before any heavy-handed laws will be conceived.
If a designer has the proper intent then there will always be a need for their services. In the future there may not be seven different products that do the same thing, but is there really a need for that? Getting away from restyling current innovation, but focussing more on designing relative objects that create new user experiences will blow the doors open for our true profession.
With the limitation of goods and resources will come the emergence of innovation and design. Stylist and the guy who has the latest rendering package in his basement may need to evolve, but true Industrial Designers will continue to do just that, Design for our evolving industries.
If we begin to run our production systems off of renewable energy sources, and we create closed circuit systems that allow the old product materials to be re-claimed and re-utilized, then I see no reason why we won’t be able to have as many new products as we want… but those are some big (but doable) ifs.
Getting away from restyling current innovation, but focussing more on designing relative objects that create new user experiences will blow the doors open for our true profession.
While I do agree that focusing on unique experiences is the way to go, I also strongly believe there is also a need for the “stylists” and the uniqueness they bring to design (in fact, all designers should do both well). I think this goes hand in hand in allowing the user to feel they have something truly unique. If everyone had the same type and color of car there would be no feeling of: “this is my car and is unique to me”, which I believe is an important part of feeling human. It goes back to early humans collecting various rare materials like gold, silver, diamonds, etc, because they were unique to those who found them.
If a designer has the proper intent then there will always be a need for their services.
The only way to know if a designer has the ‘proper intent’ would be to put it up for debate, or to run it against certain set criteria, as suggested by Tim. If it is up the each individual designer to make this complex decision, I see economic failure globally.
Will a study be required where actual need by other humans will have to be proved, in order for “the world” to allow a company to create another product? Will the company be required to remove a product for each new one they add? Other thoughts along this line of thinking?
Maybe a set of rules, guidelines, or required research to receive the Go Ahead, but it does seem like shark infested waters. Clearly some company is going to be making money off of the system created to say Yes or No.
While styling should be incorporated into the overall design process, too many manufacturers are flooding the market with restyled innovations. I’ve had so many clients wanting to “reverse engineer” products to compete with existing ones. While this method works for todays “customizeable theories” given the provided theorhetical aspects, it will not work. This is not Design, or innovation, but is a large reason why resources are being wasted. With resources diminishing globally, how will society justify producing 500 different products with the same functions? By eliminating this I dont think this provides less design work, but establishes actual avenues for consumer experiences, due to design.
A factory which cannot be built (cost, zoning, regulations whatever) means a product which cannot be made, and a designer who will not be employed and a consumer who has fewer options.
I doubt any regulation at the designer/consumer end, but it’s clearly happening at the production end.
I think â€œnaturalâ€ reduction will only happen Ã¡fter the damage has been done, so I support global regulations for mass production.
But not for limited editions. People need freedom too, we donâ€™t want to end up with some sort of communism.
Of course some companies will profit from this system, so what?
To summarize the direction I see this discussion heading:
It is easier and more useful to place restrictions on production, rather than on design. This (in the US at least) places most of the responsibility for impact assessment on manufacturers and financial backers, rather than on state or federal organizations.
So, will or should this responsibility be moved to the government?
This is assuming the usual method of centrally mass-produced products. What if there is a serious move toward rapid prototyping machines and local or small scale production, where end users purchase a design and production capabilities separately? Does it then become useful to regulate design, or will the market do that automatically? Also, how well can the need for or appeal of a design be assessed before it is embodied as a product? How difficult would it be to assess environmental impact when production methods vary and facilities are so distributed?