Design for Society by Nigel Whiteley
From the fork with which you eat your meal, to the school building you were educated in, most everything around you was designed. It has passed through a design studio, at some stage. Designers, because they are involved so early in the process of producing ‘consumer’ goods, are hugely influential in determining the materials to be used and because of their decisions, even the method and location of production. In Design for Society, Nigel Whiteley put the case for ensuring all this design has a net beneficial outcome for the community at large. He goes behind the gloss of arty magazines, exhibitions and black turtlenecks to look at what design has delivered and more importantly what it can offer us. In brief, he explains how design can be more responsive, to 'needs', not merely 'wants'. Peppered with lovely little examples, like the WoBo (or World Bottle) that Heineken designed, so African villages could build housing from these square beer bottles. Or chairs for disabled children, utensils for arthritis sufferers and urban housing for women. For an industry that prides itself on its freshness, it is sobering to realise that design is still in much the same rut that Whiteley chronicled a dozen years ago. Whether designer, or purchaser of goods, this easy-to-read book will clearly illuminate the choices we face. Choices we've been putting off for too long.