Session 4

25.09.20

Do Not What You Please

What notion do you have when you think of a designer and their job? Do you think a designer designs whatever pleases them? Fast track to humongous mountain loads of money and big hefty pocketed clients returning happy, is that the image you conjure when you picture an average day in the life situation? Dear me… you too?

There I’ll come right out out and say it. I’ve been guilty of associating the same glorified image and it wasn’t about recently that I cleared away any and all (…ok all) notorious misconceptions and perceived notions (oh how I try to hold myself back from typing out the word affordance. Can’t complain I’m a designer in the making).

As a designer we don’t design for ourselves entirely in fact we design what we think, know or are informed the user may need. This is the reason why we may have a tacky yet techy (pun not entirely intended) utensil to eat apple slices with when in fact we can very well make use of the au natural utensil we were born with – our fingers. Now I agree a new innovative design will eventually bring in sales for a company looking to penetrate and maintain their position in a local market but how often do we stop and wonder about the product before splurging what was meant to be rent money on the latest invention? The answer is simple. Not quite or perhaps not quite often. It is this impulse buying behaviour that oils the same mill that produces innovative gadgets we see. There is no harm in availing such products. Unless when you dent out your credit card, that’s when things get messy.

As a designer we must design keeping the user in mind since it is our goal to make the gadget attain a state of Heidegger’s ready at hand ness for the design to qualify as a good design.

Let’s pivot back to our initial claim. A designer designs for others and not for themselves. With this in mind we need to identify the user of the said designs. Who uses the design once it’s out there? Easy. The group of users the product has been designed for. Now take a look at an ordinary pair of sunglasses. Who were they designed for and what purpose do they serve? They were designed so that people could have a protective covering over their eyes when they step out on a hot blazing sunny afternoon.

Let’s take a look at a wheelchair. Why was it designed and what purpose does this design serve? It was designed to allow a specially abled body to move around with ease to make up for a sense of deficiency in another area, I won’t get into the discussion of who the vast range of users of the said wheelchair could be and what type of an abled body can avail the service of the product. I will point out that the design for such a wheelchair came about when a designer sat down to think about the user they were designing for. Who decided to add 2 wheels to a chair and how did they come to that conclusion. When they empathetically observed the user they were designing for.

The main take away from today’s lecture was that as a designer we must include all body types incorporating equality and inclusion of all users. Incorporate tactile signages in the same public space with ordinary signages to include a small yet. wide spectrum of specially abled users.

There should be design that manifests for all body types eradicating or reducing the prevalent issue of bodily differences.

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