Gooqx Speakerbox - No. 13 - Nathaly Nayeri

Written by

Nathaly Nayeri



16. March 2018

Estimated Reading Time

2:45 Minutes

Gooqx Speakerbox
No. 13 - Nathaly Nayeri

How design could boost humanity’s bright future

When you think about utopia, the first association you make is an abstract fairytale about a futuristic scenario. However, the philosophical definition of utopia is way more complex than that.

Utopia is to be understood as a psychological answer to the restrictions and needs of human existence. The desire of a better life isn’t a new phenomenon, but existed in every human era. A more precise definition would be the design of a fictional social system which isn’t tied to contemporary and historic cultural conditions. The fact that utopia is seen as a mostly pleasant but impracticable futuristic vision is a decisive factor as well.

But how is the utopian philosophy even relevant in a creative field, aside from a fictional and pop cultural involvement with it?

The media scholar Norbert Bolz published an essay called “Bang Design, a design manifesto for the 21th century“ in 2006 which caused a sensation in design culture. The essay predicts crucial changes in our environment which are the results of introducing inew technologies. If we want to believe the author, the designer has the task to familiarize humanity with highly complex technologies and the responsibility for a meaningful handling of the new possibilities they bring. Norbert Bolz also emphasizes design as an important factor for the realisation of utopian ideas, and with that notion he is not alone. Just 4 years earlier, the architect William McDonough and engineer Michael Braungatt released their cooperative book “cradle to cradle“ in which they challenge designers to finally take responsibility for their creations, and to end pollution and overexploitation of the earth with intelligent design.

Gooqx Speakerbox - No. 13 - Nathaly Nayeri
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Later, when online platform „Second life“ had its peak, an essay from the designer and journalist Florian Schmidt was published which presents recommendations on understanding newly emerged virtual parallel realities as utopian places, using their potential in a creative and meaningful way. According to media scholars, designers should be trusted with the role of societal trendsetters, however, none have succeeded in adopting this role so far.

Today’s design culture is mostly just design cult and perceived mainly as a marketing instrument beyond the design scene. The consumer puts design on the same level as style, thus, the aspirations of designers and the reality of design are barely congruent.

So how can the designer free themselves from this position and become a pioneer for really, really good ideas?

After the concept of design itself was rapidly shallowed and dissolved in the last decades, design now contains a new utopian driving force. When design embarks on utopias, it opens itself to the possibility of reaching higher qualitative levels.

Surely for doing that, we need to adapt more qualities than just the designing skills we use everyday anyway. Engaging into learning about art and design history are as important as acquiring political and societal awareness.

We are inclined to believe that serious involvement with futuristic visions is reserved for scientists and politicians. But the truth is that trendsetters for utopian visions have always mostly been authors, artists and designers.

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