IIDA Perspective - Spring/Summer 2015 - 51
Steven Bingler and Martin Pedersen argue that the
"great design challenge of our time" is to find a way
to reconnect design with users, the greater public.
They bemoan design's current obsession with
mechanization and materiality (ignoring the fact
that these techniques have developed over time
with the intent of bringing design to more people
in more places). Bingler and Pedersen allude to a
number of universal, almost mystical forms that
"transcend style," and call upon designers to return
to these "profoundly human" forms that resonated
with the wider public-calling out the great
examples of gothic architecture, and suggesting,
it seems, that people only like what they already
know. Bingler and Pedersen have indeed illustrated
a disconnect-though it seems to be their own.
Design is in a unique position not only to leave
a lasting imprint upon the world, but also to
communicate something powerful about a specific
time and place. Many of our most well-known and
beloved cathedrals or libraries, for instance, derived
their form not just from physical laws, but were
also meant to communicate and codify the power
of an institution over the masses, to make it clear
what and who to follow. To argue that the way
forward is to go back and adapt vernacular ways
of building is anachronistic. To say that form is the
only way that design can be "profoundly human"
is just wrong.
What has always been universal is our desire for
experiences that promote connection. We want
meaningful, shared experiences, we want
experiences that fully engage all our senses. It is
one of our most basic, enduring, and yes human
desires-and designers are continuously refining
their approach to meet this need. Most of today's
great designers talk at length about the nature of
place, about the possibilities for the intersection
between people and design. The best take those
ideas and come up with solutions that are
unexpected. Just like the creators of Chartres
cathedral, they push their projects to higher limits,
adapting new techniques to represent and reflect
the current time.
Putting people at the center is more possible than
ever through leaps in technology and effects. Hotel
design has integrated years of knowledge-from
industrial design to stage craft to mass production.
The result are experiences that completely
Will Not Take
Our natural human impulse is to try to find
a better way to put something into the world.
Today's designers live immersed in data. From
technical requirements to community needs,
input from social networks and user surveys-
we have layers and layers of information at every
scale. We look at what others have done, we adapt,
rejigger, we move forward.
Technology and globalization mean that we can be
influenced by things on the other side of the world.
We're working across disciplines and expanding
our boundaries more than ever before-we're even
increasing the scope of design education. All with
an eye toward serving the multifaceted interests
of an increasingly engaged audience. Across the
industry, there's a new sense of fearlessness.
Confidence in our craft. The ability to use the tools
we have at hand to lay out big ideas at every scale
and imagine new forms of community. Apply
our knowledge to try and solve more problems.
How can this be seen as not trying to improve
human life, just with more powerful tools? The
real disconnect is failing to notice this exciting
new dialogue that's emerging all around us.
What has always been universal is
our desire for experiences that promote
connection. We want meaningful, shared
experiences, we want experiences that
fully engage all our senses.