Icon: Why Design Needs a Recession


Fat-cat designers draining limited-edition buckets of Cristal and swinging from Swarovski chandeliers at the Gdansk Biennial… where did it all go wrong?

One should be careful what they wish for, it may come back and actually happen, but Icon magazine makes some good points in this article about how our consumer society (and the designers working in it) needs a time-out. Some examples:

£100,000 speakers
This year Ross Lovegrove made a two-metre-high speaker system encased in super-formed aluminium worth £100,000 for British audio brand KEF. Do they sound any better? Who cares?

We’re running out of derelict factories to turn into luxury lofts. Pretty soon there’ll be nowhere left for designers to live. Enough regeneration – bring on degeneration.
We live in affluent times. From DVD players to affordable Scandinavian furniture, our material needs have largely been met. Consequently, designers have stopped focusing on what people might need. The new potential of the discipline to be a pure form of expression or even social critique is resulting in interesting work by a minority of designers, while the majority is churning out useless, disposable pap based on our insatiable appetite for novelty. Design is in a decadent phase that won’t abate until we are forced to rediscover what it is that we need.