Friday, 24 October 2014

What is interesting? Conflict vs Comfort

Part of my research for the Design Agendas project.

We've been set a new project to work on, looking into Design Agendas.  I think its to start us off considering what our own design agendas are prior to starting our own major individual projects, and trying to work out what we want our products to say to the world and what message we are trying to get across.

The aim of the project is to do some research into a handful of designers or groups that fit into a design topic that we find interesting.  The topics were given to us to narrow our field of research somewhat but allow us to consider things from different angles that we maybe hadn't considered before...

Materiality in Production Future Digital Production & Generative Design Inclusive design Hi-tech Design & Gadgets
Sustainability through Longevity Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Up-cycle Global/Local Super Normal
Inspired by Nature & Bio-mimicry Function & Interaction A Return to Tradition Environmental & Ecological Impact
Digital Craft Personal, Social & Historical Narratives Customisation & Intervention Critical Design

Looking at this table it is clear that many of the topics are heavily intertwined and immediatley spotted some that resonate what I consider to be my own design agenda - that of sustainability, simplicity through form to provide function and things that echo our relationship with the natural world [highlighted green above].

We were also provided with a list of designers as a starting block to help us delve into the world of design.

Beginning my research, I looked mainly at the work of the designers on the list [partially because you can't really google "environmental and ecological impact" and get actual results], and what I noticed was that I was having very strong reactions to some of the designers and their styles.  I see myself as a bit of a cynic and this is probably re-enforced by my background in engineering, so I have had difficulty in seeing the hidden meaning behind why things are designed as they are.  The social commentary that is built into art(and form)-led design has often alluded me, and I tend to be drawn to things that lack this philosophical design reasoning and look like they do because of their function.

Then I had a mini-epiphany and decided "Why not make life more challenging and research the things that annoy me?".  Our tutor David talks a lot about conflict and I think that this would be an opportunity to really wrestle with some internal conflict and try to work out why certain designs and designers get on my nerves; what is it that I don't like and why? 

Ettore Sottsass - Carlton Room Divider (Source) : One of the Anti-Design Movement

It's all about conflict vs. comfort; in the topics I'm comfortable in, I will just be confirming that I like what I like - well done, you found someone else who agrees with you, have a pat on the back for having such good taste. In the topics that would naturally conflict with me, I can discover what it is that I don't like, what attitudes and commentaries are opposed to my opinion and why they do what they do.  Who knows, maybe my opinions will change a bit?