We tend to fear emptiness. We use words to fill up the silence, worried that if something or someone remains quiet, it might lack its purpose. We fill spaces with masses which, consequently, become a part of our lives. Common things that interact with us and turn from an inanimate object into something relatable, even personal sometimes.
Like culture, objects are social actors which need to be considered when designing social solutions. Through providing functions, we equip things with responsibilities and pressures they must carry. In return, they provide us with joy, happiness, as well as warnings and danger. Projecting “human behaviour onto a nonhuman object” is called anthropomorphism (Latour, 1992, p.160).
“The designer’s role is to ensure that [things] are relevant and used correctly by different audiences.”
Things are present all around the world and the designer’s role is to ensure that they are relevant and used correctly by different audiences. Since the 90’s, the inclusive design has been booming (Clarkson, 2008, p.90). It is essential that the target users understand the usability of an object and can benefit from it.
Due to large volumes, the meaning of things is often overlooked. We are becoming consumed by things which interact in the same way we do, creating new meanings and purposes of their presence (Boradkar, 2010). No longer will a chair be a chair – it is an item to hold one’s weight, to represent status, to show identity.
“Good design combines both, ethics and aesthetics.”
In the past, beautiful objects symbolised status or a culture. Nowadays, things discriminate, e.g. by age, health condition, or financial situation, and the design manager’s role is to research, analyse, create and deliver solutions that will tackle problems within cultures. Good design combines both, ethics and aesthetics (Norman, 2013, p. 4) to ensure that the things around us are not only beautiful but also fit for their purpose.
Boradkar, O. (2010) Designing things. 1st ed. Oxford, UK: Berg
Clarkson, J. (2003) Inclusive deisgn. 1st ed. London [u.a.]: Springer
Latour, B. ’Where are the Missing Masses? The Sociology of a Few Mundane Artifacts’ in Weibe Bijker and John Law, eds., Shaping Technology (Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 1992)
Norman, D. A. (2013). The Design of everyday things. London: MIT Press