Can design feed people?

So this is the new brief, due to Wednesday. Still struggling with it.

Last week I haven’t produced anything, although I expressed my building-a-wall idea which had good feedback. It could be an exchange of ideas between a builder and a designer. There must be something in building my father has learnt in his profession that can I learn, and maybe there must be something I can teach him. Who knows. I would like to do this in the summer when I’ll have the time – I was thinking to devote a week for this project, so some days could be me explaining my father what graphic design is, what I’m actually doing, social issues, history etc and then the rest of the days I will be building a wall with him. Well it all depends if he has some work to do those days I will be in Cyprus. And also if he’s up for it. Anyway!

So, now, can design feed people?  Can it really help? What is we’re doing here?

From Neville’s introduction of the brief:

In today’s culture, we are bombarded with so much information every day, and if you don’t respond to them you will be probably considered dead. Also today value is added to ideas, concepts. money. Money does not exist, it’s an idea embedded in a piece of paper.

By designing more, the gap between the poor and the rich is getting bigger. We design only for a small percentage of the world who can afford it – iPhones, computers, TVs, they might seem easy to have, but actually the poor populations are more than the rich ones. Design creates manufacture need.

How do we justify luxury?

If everything shifts to online systems, how a poor person can buy anything? Without a computer, without ‘plastic’ money?

Is it about teaching people to be self-reliant?

The brief actually comes from an article Neville Brody wrote – access it here

The article disappoints me a little bit in the end, I find it a little bit dreaming (?). It ends up saying all we need is love, after giving to us many statistics. But the main things I outlined from there are:

Design can

  • educate people
  • reveal and publicise
  • raise awareness
  • empower people
  • help people be more self-sufficient

In ‘Design for the other 90%’ there’s a task set by a tutor to students (I don’t remember names, locations etc), asking them to live with only 2 dollars per day (or per week, not sure), just how people in third-world countries live. This actually interested me and I would like to test it too, record my experience (and my hungriness).

An idea also might come from home, as a student I’m a bit poor of course

Feed as in what? Information (we already got this, too much), visual pleasure, happiness?

Nothing in the market is produced for the poor people.

How to reduce consumerism? I remember having this expenses app which controls my expenses in a week/monthly basis. Never worked out. I always spend more than my budget limits I set.

In ‘Can designers save the world (And should they try?)’ article, by Nico Macdonald, talks about how the products of Disney, Calvin Klein are embraced by the users not because they like them or because the products have an intrinsic merit, but because designer puppet masters have hypnotised them with things like colours and typefaces. So we caused all of this.

What if we de-design everything? What could actually be consumed after that?

The view that designers can save the world it’s probably too arrogant – they’re the ones (sorry, we) that promoted consumption and helped technology to reach today’s level

Design can’t just stop be involved with advertising because that’s how designers feed themselves – design is fed by consumption



So how can design reverse this and feed people instead of feed from the whole consumption process?

Design: a discipline that orients itself around the experience of the user.

Design to help better management of self-reliance, sources etc. There’s more food to go round. How can design do that?

My simplest – and silliest – idea was to create a plate which, when holding it in your hands immediately reads how hungry you are and all your body properties – how much food you need etc. So, when you put more food than you need in your plate it starts alarming. Or turns red. Or something. This way it can prevent you from  throwing excess food in the bin. Because there’s always someone in the world that is hungrier than you.

But wait, you’ll have to make your saucepan filled up with the amount of the necessary food. Maybe you’ll have to set all the persons that will eat, then you let them touch the saucepan which will calculate how much food will need, then it will tell you if you put too much or not.

This sounds complicated.

It’s 21:14 and I’m still thinking of what to do for Wednesday.

Fingers crossed something will come up tonight or tomorrow morning so I can have the time to produce it.


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