Sunday, September 23, 2007

Design, Design, and More Design

There are just too many things to read and learn about in this world. Perhaps that is why I feel like I am pulled in 15 different directions at the same time. I felt this exciting, and in some ways frustrating, feeling as I stared at the periodicals rack at the local Barnes & Noble in Burlington, MA. I stopped in to peruse their wide selection of old-fashioned writing journals; I was in need of a new one and have become quite particular about what I like (blank pages, place for a writing utensil, manageable size, etc.) though I have yet to find the perfect one. Perhaps that's why I keep writing, to fill them up over and over again so I can keep looking for the elusive perfectus libri. As usual I digress.

As I said, staring at the periodicals rack at B&N, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of magazines that offered topics that I am sure I would find interesting; current events (NOT People and that crap...geez!), science & technology, media, design, business, government, knitting, you name it. I found myself drawn to the latest issue of Fast Company, with the cover exhorting me to dive into the Masters of Design. My interest in something holding the promise of insights into great industrial design comes from my engineering education and my quest for knowledge about systems thinking and eco-effective creation. As I first learned when reading Cradle to Cradle a few years ago, many of our environmental challenges are rooted in habitually poor design methodologies. In any case, the article touches on a few "hot" designers and their keys to success when designing a product with the input of the people that will be using it, but not depending upon their "user generated content" to create the products. A brief point that stuck out to me follows, one that sheds some light on my previous comment regarding engineers & systems thinking,
...rosy thinking overlooks the tensions that arise when design gets factored into a big business. "Marketing people are incented to come up with great ideas," says Mitch Pergola, fuseproject's vice president and general manager. "Engineers are incented to drive out costs." To resolve those conflicts, somebody at the top has to make the Solomonic calls. "If you want to be design-driven," Béhar says, "the question is, Who's driving?"
Who is driving? Us? Corporations? Governments?

On that note, perhaps there will be even more opportunities for well-designed, green, and natural products since we now know, Consumers Face The New "Fear Factor" of climate change.

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