Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Well-Designed Future

by Drew Martin
Yesterday I watched the documentary Objectified, which is about the conception and production of things. It is a slickly made film, produced and edited with an attention to detail worthy of the industrial designers interviewed. In one scene, the retired Braun designer, Dieter Rams, trims a bonsai in his garden in Kronberg. He says that good design should be innovative, useful, aesthetic, understandable, honest, unobtrusive, long-lived, consistent in every detail, environmentally friendly...and "last but not least, good design is as little design as possible." The documentary returns to Rams at the end for a slightly apocalyptic comment...."The value, and especially the legitimization of design will be, in the future, measured more in terms of how it can enable us to survive, and I don't think this is an exaggeration, to survive on this planet." Rams points to Apple as today's best design firm, which prompts an interview with Jonathan Ive, Apple's Senior Vice President - Industrial Design, who speaks about undesigning and getting design out of the way. Karim Rashid questions why we need to keep revisiting the archetype; why for instance, does a digital camera try to reference a film camera, which had been designed for the way film loads. This documentary addresses cradle-to-cradle design issues of sustainability. What I found most interesting were the designers who spoke about design beyond products; using design to understand situations and to design solutions.