Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Week 3: Reading Response 2 – Slow Design Principles

Slow Design principles presents a philosophy for design that, to me, simply formalizes a number of design principles currently in practice under a specific umbrella term. Apart from this it sets out a lofty goal to be an agent of change by changing the designer’s behavior and subsequently changing the mindset of those who consume the creations of said designers.

The principles are hardly novel but the thread connecting all of them is interesting. “Stop to smell the roses” is something we have all heard yet it is something we can rarely afford to do. Doing so is what I advocated through these principles.

The examples provided are great and many of them do a fine job in embodying each principle under which it is presented but the problem I see is that they tend to only embody one principle but may not embody another or may make assumptions as to how it will be received by the public at large. What is the value in this evaluation methodology if other principles are broken? Does it matter?

The most potential, I believe, lies with the ENGAGE principle and the Rural Studio project which teaches these principles towards sustainability with a focus on locality. This not only engages the community but also engages the designers to change a local philosophy (which is the longer-term goal) while also providing a more tangible positive feedback to the designer who is also part of the community itself. I believe it is through this symbiotic immersion that they Slow Principles can serve as a vehicle for both change in society and a shift in design philosophies within the design community. In this sense I believe that it is no accident that two of the principles involve collaboration. It is through this collaboration that anyone can invite different perspectives so that one can be better equipped to address any shortcomings in any given effort and it also serves as a vehicle for spreading and obtaining buy-in to one’s philosophies.

The case study presented is an exercise which I believe falls short on being particularly interesting but it does frame the principles in a manner which was described in the abstract -- “..to interrogate, evaluate and reflect on their design ideas…” I believe that this publication does a fine job in collecting a number of principles and offers great examples but I do not think that there will be a mass conversion of “slow designers”.

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