Note — Oct 04, 2020

Design for the Future When the Future Is Bleak

Seen in → No.144

Source → nytimes.com/2020/09/28/t-magazine/design-fu...

“At its core, design is an inherently futurist medium.” Starting there, the basic premise it that in our bleak futures how should design change, how should it stop designing things that do damage, and how can they help designing better futures.

I’m sharing it here because ultimately, even though design should change and can certainly have an impact, the argument of the article simply reminded me of the individual actions we’ve been encouraged to take to stop environmental degradation, extinctions, and climate change. They are all good actions to take individually, as would changes in the practice of design, but ultimately it’s collective action taken to change policies and control the excesses of Capital that will make the needed large-scale changes possible, not individual action, and not better design. Focusing on either one without the collective vision is somewhat of a smokescreen.

[T]he fundamental paradox of contemporary design — that in an attempt to make our environment more and more comfortable, we have destroyed that environment itself. […]

If design has always been about looking forward — and doing so with the hope that what was to come would be better than what happened before — it now must also be about looking back in regret that our lives, in the end, have not been improved by all our expansion and growth.