lunes, febrero 26, 2007

A New Approach to Design by John Thackara

"The Rocket steam locomotive, designed in 1829, helped set in motion an industrial revolution that has transformed everyday life for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Generations of designers since then have filled the world with an amazing array of products and buildings, transport and communication networks.

Many of these innovations had unexpected consequences - not all of them benign. The parlous condition of the planet, our only home, is a good example. The industrial revolution gave us miraculous products, but we produced them in wasteful and polluting ways - and still do.

Eighty percent of the environmental impact of today's products, services, and infrastructures is determined at the design stage. Design decisions shape the processes behind the products we use, the materials and energy required to make them, the ways we operate them, and what happens to them when we no longer need them.

So we made some bad design mistakes. But we can fix them. This is where Designs of the time comes in. This year-long festival of social and economic innovation will forment a new industrial and social revolution - and speed up the transition to sustainability.

Designs of the time will harnesss the same creativity and can-do approach that launched the railway age - only with a new objective: designing people back into centre stage. It will be a year-long exploration of ways we can carry out familiar, daily-life activities in new ways.

Dott is about a less-stuff-more-people world in which new services will help us share the load of everyday activities: washing clothes; looking after children; obtaining decent food; caring for sick people.

Many of these new services will involve the use of products, or equipment, to carry them out. Software systems to help us share resources, and collaborate, are a design priority. But objects and technology will play a supporting role in Dott. And new principles - above all, sustainability - will inform the ways products and systems are designed, made, used, and looked after.

In Designs of the time we'll only invent wheels when we have to. The North-East is bursting with creative and innovative grassroots projects. Dott will link these together and help the whole region become a kind of design school in which a wide variety of people - not just professionals - meet, share ideas, discuss, and learn from each other's experiences.

Designs of the time is not about telling people in the North East how to live. On the contrary: its purpose is to enable local people- interacting with inspiring and visionary guests from around the world - to develop their own visions and scenarios. In that sense, Designs of the time is in the acorns business. Its most valuable legacy will be the people who stay behind, the projects they have started, and the skills they have acquired to carry them out.

The North East will once again be the birthplace of of an industrial revolution - only this time it will be sustainable; it will include a lot of public sector innovation; and it will draw on the traditons of of social solidarity that make our region so special."

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