Design in Context, Part A


Design in a way is an act of balance. Designers have to maintain a “balance between the permanent and the ephemeral, between nature and the consumer dominated culture” that we live in today(Raizman 363). This whole seesaw of balance believe it or not relies on us as designers to keep in check. One major thing that is throwing it off kilter is the over consumption of our society.
Our society has thrived on consumption throughout the past fifty years. We are a use and throw away society. It is mainly seen and studied in environmental awareness and the heath food industry. This is even seen through furniture sales. IKEA for example has had huge international success with its modern furniture designs. With consumption comes obsolescence, and with obsolescence also comes consumerism. In fact, “obsolescence remains the cornerstone of consumer-led design, involving the stimulation of desire through novelty on one hand and the effective management of production costs on the other”(Raizman 366).
Another driving force behind modern design is the means of miniaturizing technology. This is seen in all sorts of ways like cell phones and laptops. This can be a challenging aspect of design because so many constraints are placed on the designer which leads to a certain amount of conformity when it comes to miniaturization in electronic products(Raizman 372). In addition to this, graphic design has a huge impact on the modern designs of today. The fact that designs can be “soft” or easily changed in a digital format really makes it easy for designs to change with little effort. Finally some other influences are materials technology and craft.
If universal design is defined as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible…”(Raizman 371) do you think that we are achieving this in our society as a whole? Also do you feel that this new technical society is straying too far away from the previous handmade society we used to live in? And what in your own life do you think as the largest effect on modern design today?