as we speak, 100% design has wrapped up in london with new york and helsinki behind it and valencia and guadaljara design weeks coming up. with design going mainstream, a lot of urban centers are hoping to attract a sophisticated demographic to their cities by organizing product-centric conferences like these that are a wonderful way to find new talent. but are they great for design?
now, don’t get me wrong, i find nothing dishonorable in setting up a design wares market in every corner of the world where each and every individual with ideas, regardless of color, creed or liquor sponsorship can rightly present them to an audience in order to make a living. but that is rarely what happens. take it from someone who has consistently thrown one of the most attended events of the week in the past, and believed his own hype but been so violently repelled by it the last few years that he preferred to stay away. and by he, i mean me. every year evolves, in my not-so-humble opinion, in the wrong direction and keeps furthering no other agenda than that of increased consumption, something we have little reasonable excuse to engage in.
i believe the ray of light at the end of this tunnel to be the increasing engagement of designers everywhere designing for solutions as opposed to themselves, for conversations to be had and not solely for effect. to wit, the work of fuseproject which focuses on the needs of others. the work of dieter rams which focuses on the needs of the appliance-minded. the work of ross lovegrove which follows function with form. i would be ecstatic if these global design weeks would, instead of product souks, be markets of ideas. imagine what we could solve by putting all these brilliant heads together and forgetting about another chair, another carafe, another clever update on the doily but rather focusing on the more pressing matter at hand, designing life for the better…
there must be a rallying cry among those who turn bits into things to care enough to look around themselves, even in their own homes, and fix what doesn’t work. at the next convention center-sized exhibition, i need to see plungers and water jugs and pool alarms. stat.