After viewing the Design for the First World competition guidelines I am immediately struck by the relevancy of their concerns for sustainability and over-consumption to the concerns that we address in our own program. To put myself in the shoes of the qualifying designers, I would look at this as an examination of my own and my fellow first worlder’s use and exploitation of developing economies to be their production work horses. Connected to one of my earlier posts, I feel that the U.S. (to use my locale) has over the past 50 years developed a relationship with China, specifically on having them produce (as we are all well aware) astonishing quantities of products and goods for our always growing practices of consumerism and consumption of goods.
Yeah, so, we all get that. WE USE TOO MUCH SHIT. But what do we do about it?
Well, this week has been a surprising series of revelations and connections made for myself, after conceiving my own thesis statement to revolve around some of these exact issues. Not so much addressing that we use too much, but that we as makers are losing our own connection to the things we own and in turn make for others. We’re on a poor cycle of designing and making our goods based on the examples set by a larger industry, and are catering to an audience that is craving and demanding objects in the manner that their consumption habits have shaped them into craving. We need to step back for a minute and take a breath. A stunning outline of how to do this came in the form of our class based video by Bruce Sterling and his addressing of our objects and services and their structure in our lives. Sterling’s view is essentially a call to purge. Which as much as I feel is possibly the only solution to reset, is not the only answer. Looking at the site http://www.kk.org/streetuse/, we see stunning examples of ingenuity and practicality in design making, even though the end results are less than beautiful as an aesthetic value, there is something about their simplicity and intuitive nature that presents beauty to us in a new way. Objects can be fun, and superfluous, but we’ve got to make them count as well.
My thoughts stemming from these sources and my (as of this week brand new) thinking about the products in our lives leads me to my design for the first world proposal. I propose that you make your own stuff. Plain and simple. Before you buy it, you try and make it. If you REALLY can’t succeed in making something to fill the functional role of what you were about to buy, then go ahead and buy a nice one. But give making a try. Let me make it for you. Let my fellow makers make it for you. Give up on the box store, and examine the skills of your community and fellow non-factory working human beings to be downright ingenious about how to solve your product problems. Also, don’t throw away every damn thing that breaks (here is where I begin to disagree with Mr. Sterling). I feel that this would result in a much greater appreciation of our stuff, and our natural relationship to it. By increasing these connections and raising this awareness, I feel that the trend towards reducing consumptive habits will begin to change, at least on a small scale.