The Design Process is Flawed

The conventional practice of Industrial Design is based on a well know design process, which is a structure focusing solely on the product. This traditional approach gives designers a very limited perspective that relates only to the product they are designing. The entire cycle of extraction, production, distribution, consumption, disposal is called the materials economy, and designers are blind to the true impact that products have.

What is overlooked with this limited vision:

  1. Finite natural resources are used to create consumer products for mass consumption.
  2. Extracting reserves from nature is desecrating the environment causing unnatural extinction and unprecedented loss of life.
  3.  Chemical concoctions are brewed to reconfigure resources from nature into plastics, paints, rubbers, and materials are not biodegradable.
  4. Packaging and distribution processes of products increase material and energy usages.
  5. While most products are in use, energy is needed to operate them. Energy sources such as coal, oil, and natural gas are extremely destructive. I don’t think I need to explain this.
  6. Increases in consumption causes significant growth in worldwide energy demands and cause havoc with global warming, pollution, and with devastating effects on the natural world.
  7. And finally, cultures around the world are accustomed to disposing items when they are no longer needed, which is causing massive challenges with unnatural waste containing toxic and hazardous chemicals.

Other powerful forces within the materials economy:

  1. Government politics and regulations have dynamic pulls on consumer products.
  2. Corporations prioritize profits over ethical practices.

The entire process is massive. Designers need to find a different approach or we will keep repeating these same bad habits. Changes to the design process are inevitable in order to design objects beyond their immediate form and function.


Brigid O’Kane  |  |  ©2018 All Rights Reserved


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