Friday, May 2, 2008

Design Democracy

I suppose my last blog ruffled some feathers with the nice people over at Local Motors, and reading it now, I think it came off the wrong way, and probably misinterpreted a bit..

Advancement in any design field is the introduction of new, fresh ideas.

When an optimistically minded architect known as Frank Lloyd Wright started to challenge conventional building technique with his controversial designs, creative engineers overcame the obstacles by creating new solutions. When the revolutionary Bangle-Hooydonk era arrived, the design world was turned upside down. Consumers actually went out of their way to recruit as many signatures as possible to oust the daring design chief. Now, we see every car company taking cues from those "bangled 7's." Even Mercedes Benz- the company that invented the automobile- is following in their wake. New designs that push us out of our comfort zone- usually at first glance will make us uncomfortable- but in the long run, will ultimately be incorporated into the design vocabulary by future designers. However, people in general are sheep- they are comfortable with what they know, and will generally follow the herd.

I do believe that there is a chance for Local Motors to accomplish something- the degree of revolution has yet to be determined.

Design Democracy?

Design democracy is an interesting concept that I've been pondering for years now. One one hand, public opinion results are always skewed -the accurate representation of public opinion is compromised by a number of factors, ie.. anyone willing to register 50 different email addresses, and subsequently, votes in their favor. At worst- it becomes a popularity contest. There needs to be a final say- such as in the judicial system, where the jury votes, then the Judge makes the final decision. On the other hand, the idea that "by letting everyone voice their opinion, fresh ideas may come about as a result" can not be refuted.

Design vs Art

What's the difference between design and art? Those two words seem to be inextricably combined when it comes to the design field. To answer this, I studied under Tom Matano for six years- and when I finally found the answer, it shocked me.

Design is a pragmatic solution to a problem that either does or doesn't exist yet. This is often misconstrued with the passionate regurgitation of existing designs- artistic, self-expression- the antithesis of a pragmatic solution. The majority of transportation design students will eventually make the transition from the the latter to the first- and once the concept is understood, their self-expression will be marketable.

In the end, is this democratic car company stagnating or advancing design? I feel it has the capacity to do both. In my earlier blogging, I mentioned that "by aiming for design democracy, I feel that Local Motors is not actually advancing design, but rather stagnating it a bit by giving power to the people." By this statement, I do not mean they're killing design, I simply mean the advancement may not be as advanced as many hope, IF the power to decide is given to the everyman...

1 comment:

Local Motorhead said...

No feathers ruffled, and no worries. Your post was well received, and has generated another well-deserved line of discussion.

Check it out:

Keep it coming, Crispy, we are grateful having you as part of our community.