Design with a purpose
Design is concerned with aesthetics; with the way products are pleasing to the eye. This traditional idea about design seems to have made way for a new role for designers. Nowadays, design also involves social responsibility, creating a better world in which to live. The 7th Design Triennial in Flanders ‘Conflict & Design’, to be held at C-Mine in Genk, Belgium, sets out a number of new developments.
A familiar example is the local square that has become derelict. Instead of doing it up themselves, the city council consults a designer who redesigns the square together with local residents based on local needs. The advantage is that the project fosters social cohesion, with local residents feeling responsible for the square and maintaining it themselves.
In this case, the designer directs an experimental process which eventually produces a design of relevance to end users. Although aesthetics still play a role, they serve a social purpose.
Interest in this method, which originates from a grassroots level, has grown considerably in recent years, among both the general public and those in the profession. This became evident last October during the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven (NL), which attracted no less than a quarter of a million visitors. The many experimental designers in attendance presented unexpected solutions for issues in the area of food, healthcare, mobility, technology and finance.
“The great ideals have disappeared from society,” says Kurt Vanbelleghem, curator of the ‘Conflict & Design’ Triennial, of this new development. “Solidarity is no longer organised on the basis of politics or religion, but on the basis of personal engagement. Citizens are now taking the initiative.”
The triennial will present more than sixty Flemish design projects created in response to this. More than half of the products are based on a process or mindset of conflict resolution, such as those relating to quality of life, pollution, sustainability or natural disasters. Designers facilitate a solution by means of a product, although this could also be a service or a social intervention.
Vanbelleghem: “The objects we display are the result of designers rebelling against a global production system. This fits within the broader social context of slow food, organic cultivation and small-scale production. Large-scale industrial processes are shifting towards a local or personal level.”
It is also a means of lifting the economy out of the slump. A local creative manufacturing industry or upcycling fits in with these endeavours. However, large organisations and government authorities are also keen to participate in this new social dynamic as it provides insight into what end users really want. A designer acts as a cog in the networking wheel that includes other designers, psychologists, sociologists, technicians and civil servants.
Although the trend is still in its infancy, the contours are becoming visible; also because technology, such as 3D printers, is developing at a rapid pace. According to Vanbelleghem, the social consequences can be considerable. “It’s a global fact that people take their own lives as a starting point and try to tackle 21st century problems with 21st century solutions.” Or as top Dutch designer Daan Rosegaarde recently put it: “The only way forward is to move away from opinions and work towards proposals!”
7th Design Triennial in Flanders ‘Conflict & Design’: 15.12.13 till 09.03.14 at C-Mine in Genk (BE)
Er zijn nog geen reacties geplaatst.