A moral dilemma for design

Yrjö Sotamaa: “Papanek’s Heritage – Design for a Real World”, a seminar at the Aalto University on March 6, 2012: “Designers in Finland felt that is was unethical and immoral to talk about beauty in a world full of inequality and problems.” This moral dilemma stems from the sixties of the last century. World famous Finnish designers were awarded for the beauty of their designs, not because of their social impact.
Does this dilemma still play a role today? I think so, especially the question about design as an elite activity within the social classes of the 21st century. For me, design, the role of designers and design education should be (more) about social impact within a critical attitude towards design itself.
“Considering all the areas which my list touches upon, it might be easy to assume that I feel that all the problems of the world can be solved through design. But in fact, all I am saying is that a great many problems could use the talents of designers. And this will mean a new role for designers, no longer as tools in the hands of industry but as advocates for users.” (Victor Papanek, Design for the real world, 1985)

Karin – Filterdesign & University of Applied Science Amsterdam

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