Maybe you’re in it for the money, or because you won’t buy anything manufactured then sold in Target or Costco. Maybe you want others to see your work and say, “wow”. Whatever your reason for being a designer, as with all choices it comes with great responsibility. A responsibility to progress the items, materials, sustainability, methods, truths, and widgets in the right direction. What is the right direction? One thing is for sure, you’re the designer and it’s your job to decide this and decide correctly.
Anyone who’s not a designer or filter for what should and shouldn’t be produced, is on the other side. They are the consumers, not just in an economical sense but in the informational, and reliable sense. They take what you have created and accept it as what should be. It is a universal truth that will forever be the predecessor, a precedent of what’s next.
Your responsibility as a designer is to make sure we as a society, don’t end up using complete crap. Crap that will wash up on the shores of some remote beach 2 months after release because a better one is made shortly after. Crap that requires more packaging and instructions than the material that makes the object. Crap that just “looks” different than the last. Make something intuitive, make it function due to it’s design, make something that will last. Your design should stand for a universal truth, where a widget to me is a widget to you, no matter the differences of our past experiences.
There is a study called protocol analysis that involves studying the processes behind the process. There has to be some basis for the innovation a designer uses in building, and before that, there is a process that takes place to create the creativity behind it. The process behind the process is what I believe designers hold the responsibility in positively influencing. Innovation is based on what you know, and what you create will become the foundation it is based on. This is the most important aspect when discussing this commonly ignored aspect of what a designer really does on an indirect level to its consumer.
Because It’s Cool
As far as I’m concerned this is a perfectly good reason to ship a design. Theoretically, this is what makes design and why so many people are passionate for the best designs. But so often this is made the number one priority in designing a new product and for some companies, this is all they design, usually with failure.
Lets use this phone for a short discussion on design trends versus meaningful designs. An object designed around current trends, in this case, an old telephone, though not completely lacking ornament, still acts as practical as it should. Though I know how to use something like this from my own experience, there are indexes designed into the form that instruct its use in a non classical way (which is the best way). Another design that we can look at is this tape dispenser.
This design is virtually un-changed for decades. I’ve seen and used these things all throughout school in the library or classroom, and now on an almost daily basis in the office and at home. It’s an example of a modern device that is designed for all practical purposes. It uses a relatively minimal rectangular shape and has one large curve, placed there for grabbing tape easily. I don’t remember doing it, but I’m sure the first time I had to replace the roll of tape, I was able to do so with out thinking about it. I was just directed by the form of the device which is how it should be. Using devices should not be complicated whether mechanical or touch/ digital. As a designer, you have to remember that what you create will be the basis for consumer knowledge and use for the future of product design and consumption. No matter the number of followers you have on Twitter, as a designer, you have millions off the web that will use your product every day. You are a great influence on the way we all think about and use our things. It’s your responsibility to make it meaningful and permeate with other bright ideas. This is the responsibility of a designer.