A book excerpt: The fourth way for design. Issue #96.
How did we get to design ubiquity? (A thank you to paid subscribers.)
I am trying to make a good go of this newsletter thing. In fact, I’m honestly more excited about the newsletter, and what it might portend, every single week (though you probably wouldn’t know that from its sporadic appearance in your inbox).
Today, I want to start to fulfill the promise of providing short excerpts of the book to paid subscribers. A handful of you who contributed your hard-earned dollars to this endeavour and I’m incredibly grateful for that.
Paying for this newsletter is meaningful in two ways. First, it says that you believe in me and what mishegas (Yiddish: foolish nonsense) I am trying to do here: to create a new space to talk and think about design and its relationship to creativity, climate and consciousness. Second, it says that you support independent publishing at a time of perennially free content, the mainstreaming of click bait, and the scourge of aggressive algorithms.
Anyway, I’m truly thankful to all of my subscribers. If you are a paying subscriber, again, thank you. If you are not, it’s okay. If you just joined Gornisht, welcome! I’m super delighted you are here. Here are some potatoes.
The following is part of a chapter (full text for paid subscribers) in the book with the working title of “Design Consciousness”.
The Fourth Way for Design
Design is everywhere. It sits on the surface of every physical object, human interaction, and digital conversation. It permeates our thoughts and thought processes and fuels the engines of almost all economies. It has the capacity to change behaviors and ideals and hopes and goals and whole technologies. Design has become a kind of digital permaculture, mapped on to our desires, our whims, our loves, and soon enough, our bodies. Design touches nearly every single person on the planet and every single person has touched design.
This commonplace, that design is everything and that design creates meaning as a relatively transparent tool of human engagement, is in itself a kind of breakthrough in the overall direction of civilization’s activity. Interfaces on phones allow you to use the energy of a single Cheerio to produce a message that then careens across the globe instantly. Consoles at military headquarters show live feeds of individuals and their families from cameras on high flying drones. Farmers direct seed planting and fertilization using similar screens connected to satellites alighting the sky.
And these are only a few of the largest and most impactful uses of designed technologies today. We cannot forget about the physical and digital objects that inhabit and dominate our everyday comings and goings, as well — the books, magazines, newsletters, emails, cartons, containers, airplanes, submarines, furniture, FX, parks, warehouses, websites, wardrobes, and even wildernesses. All of these things, these parcels of cultural permanence, are built from the raw materials of the earth through the collective wisdom and individual toil of those trained in crafting the art of the everyday: designers.
If design and its ubiquity in our world is invisible, so are its practitioners. How many designers can you count on one hand? Perhaps Jony Ive.