Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The Consumption of Design - My Thoughts

Reading chapter four of Guy Julier's 'The Culture of Design' brought my understanding of our consumer driven culture to a new level and go me thinking. It is impossible for us to escape consumerism as everything has been invested in by someone at some point in time. Even voluntarily run organisations involve elements of design and therefore capital. Design in general plays a huge part in shaping our society. The money and time invested in products, experiences and services proves how responsible we as designers are in influencing how society spends and interacts. The constant flow of design and production which occurs primarily to feed consumer demand is effectively further encouraging society's need for the new and improved. As long as designers continue to develop new products for consumption this cycle will inevitably exist.

The chapter also explains that consumption is believed to be personal choice and a freedom to express individuality. In reality, the consumer is being manipulated into buying and experiencing a lifestyle which effectively has been designed and provided by someone else entirely. Individually and even more so as a potential designer, I contribute to and am responsible for a great deal of our consumer driven culture just like everyone else. Relating to my discipline, textile designer's influence and create with the intention of fulfilling consumer needs whether that be in the form of a useful product such as fabric or a purely visual gallery piece. Due to previous disregard for the origin of raw materials and the disposal of chemicals, the textiles industry has ruined the much of the landscape. This has been down to quick fixes and bad judgement in a time when the height of consumer demand has clouded our morals. Is it possible for us ever to live in a society where consumerism doesn't play such a great part ? Can we amend the damage we have already done in our quest to feed our consumer appetite? As potential designers of the future, I feel it is important that we understand the current problems so we can try to be more ethical in our consumption of raw materials and the ways in which we process them into final designs. If we are thoughtful when considering these elements of our design processes, consumerism will unavoidably still exist but will not be at the destructive level it is at today.