I’m a bit disillusioned with design as an industry. It seems that many design courses are training students with the skills they need to keep the industry as it is: churning out superfluous objects that will end up in a bin within increasingly shorter periods of time.
I was hoping that the Central Saint Martins Product Design show would be different, and I’m afraid I was disappointed. I remember seeing some good stuff of theirs a few years ago, and I knew the Textile Futures MA was good (along with the Fine Art course), but generally the product designers weren’t wowing me. I wanted to find some like-minded designers outside of Goldsmiths, wanting to change the world for the better, wanting to deal with issues our society has… conceptual or social designers, really. Or designers with really good innovative ideas: just no re-stylers.
I tried to find one thing I liked about the show, and this was it.
The project is called ‘A Light Conversation’ by Amanda Ames. It’s ‘a conceptual argument to the lost time of physical communication’. The idea is that we’re losing something by not speaking to someone on the phone; we’re getting used to just liking stuff on Facebook instead – with one click we’re communicating but it’s not the same as actually talking. After a few days of not using the phone, the lights start changing colour to remind you to pick up the phone and talk to someone.
I like this idea because it’s addressing a very real problem. I think we need to do more about solving this problem, and aim it especially at the kids. Children now are growing up in the Internet era – my 11 year old brother has never known any different. Of all the generations, they will be the most disadvantaged in trying to learn how to be sociable. Clicking ‘Like’ is not enough. Humans are sociable beings, we need to have friends and relationships in order to be happy and flourish. Relationships are limited if the communication is bad, and face-to-face has always been the best method of communication.
In a way, the phone idea is flawed because face-to-face contact is what should be encouraged rather than phone conversations. But it actually works well that it’s a flawed idea – it’s creating a discourse. It paves the way for people to come to the conclusion by themselves that we should have more ‘face time’ (not the Apple synthetic kind); making up your own mind is much more powerful than being told what to think.
So, there is a glimmer of hope for the Central Saint Martin’s course. I’ll be back next year.
The product is registered and copywrited.