Thursday, September 8, 2011

Slow Design Principles - Tiffany

The directors of slowLab, Inc. ( approach the designation of new design principles in a manifesto-esque manner, outlining the need for more evaluation in terms of the development of new design practices; specifically, they intend to guide the field toward more sustainable practices, whether socially, culturally, or environmentally. This new "evaluative tool," they contend, is outlined as a 6-point principle guide (not 'absolute truths') to open discussion toward experimentation. "Slow" forms a whole methodology that includes a more careful, deliberate process of creation, one which seems to work upon the metaphor of biological physical/cognitive growth and development either as an individual or as a species. Each of the principles - REVEAL, EXPAND, REFLECT, ENGAGE, PARTICIPATE, EVOLVE - is accompanied by various examples, serving to create a field of inquiry within which new design experimentation might fall.

SlowLab's principles achieve a level of generalness that allows for almost every example to fit into many categories; for example, Olivier Peyricot's "Slow Rider" is also demands a level of engagement from an audience, reflects upon its constituent components and the history/evolution of transportation. Also, along with this level of generality, much of the examples seem to work beyond elements of design, but in any social practice - be it pedagogy, art, etc. The principle entitled "REFLECT" has much in common with any artwork calling for a certain meditation upon an object and its "memory," an idea expounded upon by Sigfried Giedion in Mechanization Takes Command, as well as Space Time and Architecture. Also, works by artists such as Janet Cardiff often explore how memory and complex histories can be embedded, and then communicated through objects; her piece "To Touch" is a particularly compelling example of this (

However, the generalness of the principles can also lead to a lack of specific direction, particularly in why and how to engage the public. What is the difference between "ENGAGE" and "PARTICIPATE"? Are we communicating to a distinct group of individuals, or are we attempting to engage them in a particular way? Is all participation and engagement useful? Is the simple commodity-consumer relationship considered "participation"? Speaking of the consumer relationship, Katrin Svana Eythorsdottir's "Chandelier" might reflect upon preciousness and ephemerality, but in designing an object destined to fail and produce an even higher speed of consumption seems to go directly against a "slow" design ethic. Perhaps another principle addressing the speed of consumption should also be added?

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