GOOD Advice {Use What You Have}

August 20, 2011

Chappell Ellison's post today queried, "Can designers change the world without creating more stuff?" I almost bypassed the piece, but I'm glad I didn't.

I was expecting to find a cataloging of the most revered designer-sponsored relief and world-aid campaigns. Don't get me wrong, I have loved a great many of those offerings; however, I wasn't in the mood for that. And good thing I took a chance on looking further because I was wrong. Ellison was actually building out on a premise of "real-world economics and politics." Hers was a posit of sensibility {from a designer's perspective}.

"In his books, By Design: Why There Are No Locks on the Bathroom Doors in the Hotel Louis XIV and Other Object Lessons, Ralph Caplan advises us not to underestimate the power of situation design or "the concept of moving from the design of others to the design of the circumstance in which things are used." He asserts, "The most elegant design solution of the fifties was not the molded plywood chair or the Olivetti Lettera 22 or the chapel at Ronchamp. It was the sit-in." Finally, a definition of design that emphasizes the economy of time, an understanding of resource availability, and most importantly, using what's at hand rather than producing more goods to solve a problem."

I can't even count the number of reusable bags I've purchased. IKEA, Walmart, Marshall's, Macy's, Target, Forever21, Whole Foods ... Some because they were cute and others because I honestly intended to use them. I recently picked up a nifty hot pink bag receptacle from IKEA to neatly store all of the shopping bags I'd brought home from the grocery store when I forgot one of those eco-friendly totes. A classic example of my not using what's at hand and purchasing more goods to solve a problem. 

Not a designer ... but lesson learned. 

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