In 2020 we buy stuff that makes us happy and then we unbox these exquisitely packaged things ready for consumption; this is the hit of why we buy. However, probe a little deeper and question how did this happen; where did inventiveness and ingenuity go and is creativity at all central? There are three participants in product design - designer, maker, and user.
Nowadays people consume and use, but it was not always so. Looking back, products were dreamt up, made or fixed and then used, ‘Designer,Maker,User’ the ultimate in sustainability. There was a joy to fixing things that we have lost thanks to consumption. Think about the last time you sewed anything? Yet my parents talk about a time when they had sewing classes at school.
The Design Museum exhibited ‘Designer Maker User’ in a book by Newson, Suggett and Sudjic alongside the launch of their exhibition through which these participatory stages were explored. This new enforced WFH may be perceived as limiting as we have restricted physical movement and socialisation, however it could be a catalyst for us all to become more participatory in the design process, not just users, but makers and designers. Just how much more resourceful, utilitarian and confident would you feel? Not just as a consumer, but as a creator and utiliser of your own resources and existing environment.
This could have all kinds of repercussions, for example, using your creativity to keep the kids busy and entertained whilst increasing intellect by making. This can also contribute to one’s self esteem; the pleasure of designing, making and using has the same affect in a three year old as it has in a 93 year old. It’s a lot easier to keep the British stiff upper lip if we have access to creative outlets that consequently raise our self-belief.
The problem can be anything and design can fix it. The making can be a 30 second tweak or a weekend construction project. The using can be a brain training exercise or an evening socialising when we are eventually permitted to do so. Product design is everywhere and we are weakest when we are not engaged, so keep busy and remain at your strongest, as this unprecedented period shouldn’t stop us.