Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Design without borders

ERA 05
That's the motto of the World Design Congress ERA05 in Oslo to be held in september. There are 3 main topics:

Borders of your Profession
Design across professional borders is basically aimed at immaterial design i.e. how design can solve many problems across disciplines using the design process to find creative integral solutions.

Borders of your World
Design across global borders, not just in terms of economic globalization but also intercultural cross fertilization and understanding of that cultural mosaique.

Design for All
The needs and facts about universal design will be discussed. The main concern is the aging population in developing countries, but I am sure there will be also some other examples of universal design in terms of just different abilities: cognitive, language, senses, etc. not just physical. Anyway, there are two very interesting conferences: Alex Lee from OXO, and Keiji Kawahara from the International Association of Universal Design in Japan which is already organizing the Second International Conference for Universal Design to be held in Kyoto in 2006. Their prospectus says: "We should not develop products taking only young and healthy people into account. It is necessary to create products with which/a society where there is no need to feel inconveniences because of the differences in age, sex, race or one 's abilities."

It is nice to see that those are the main concerns of design nowadays. We past the discussion over form/function; and we are discussing the really important matters. When you think carefully, the global borders topic is also related in a way to universal design, because 3 of the seven UD principles have some implications on that area:

1 Equitable use (make the design appealing to all users) from all countries and cultures
2 Flexibility (the design accomodates a wide range of individual preferences)
3 Simple and intuitive use (accomodate a wide range of literacy and language skills)

For me, it is nice to hear the word "design" in such phrases as: "improve the life of everyone through design" or "Good design enables, bad design disables" instead of words like "styling" or "designers make beautiful objects". Universal design empowers the people, styling is just commercial gain (you may qoute me on this last statement). I mean, products are made (designed) with specific goals. It may be commercial gain, styling, to accomplish a specific or several functionns, to be emotional, etc. A specific list of criteria is set for each product. Some products fulfil those specifications, others don't... But universal design has a holistic approach: design has to be universal! Design has to be empowering to all users. What can be more rewarding, than when a product is successful at that?


PS: If you are one of the lucky ones to visit Oslo... don't leave unless you visit the Vigeland Park.
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