Design and recession ~ Abaster

18 November 2008

Design and recession

Alice Rawsthorn, writer at the IHT, has an interesting piece on the role of design during hard times. One might dispute some of the products that are highlighted - particularly the anti-style driven jumble of drawers by Tejo Remy that, if anything, makes a mockery of hard times - but the key message of the piece can be found in the last line, and it is an important one. Rawsthorn asks what should design be focussed on in these recessionary times: "... whats the most exciting role for design? Developing new business concepts and cracking social problems, or making expensive, uncomfortable furniture?"

Ms Rawsthorn has put her finger on the importance of design and designers in responding to the myriad of challenges that recession is throwing our way. Of course design is no panacea, and many of the challenges cannot be fixed by changing a shape or font or material, but taking a fresh look at some of the more mundane, awkward challenges (some of which have been discussed in other entries) that face the consumer, the line worker, the middle manager, the public servant, the community and indeed the nation, would be incredibly valuable and a challenge worth rising to. What better way to dispel the notion that design equals expensive, uncomfortable furniture?