CATALYZING the Conversation: The DNA of Desire and Design
By Dr. Mary McBride
Issue 6 Winter 2010
Our conclusion is that desire is hard-wired into the human psyche and into the design process. Both require stimulation and excitement and a sense of reaching for what is potentially possible. Neither is satisfied for very long. Today, both design and desire are pushing up against the edge of a future for nine billion on an overheated planet that aches for more.
They are refusing easy labels; they are not just consumers or producers, but designers, creating their own desires.
Can design deliver solutions that satisfy and sustain as they stimulate and surprise? We think so. Designers literally shape and make desire into objects, forms, structures and services. We are part of the DNA of desire. This issue examines the role of strategic design in structuring the development of desire into a series of exchange patterns that become “lifestyle” and form the basis of a global “economy of desire.” We look at the design of ideas about what we want, who we are and how we want to live.
We wondered, “What would Don Draper, do today?” as we looked at the emergence of a creative economy driven by new media. Could the emblematic creative adjust? Would he let the customer into the creative process? Understand that trust was the essential brand promise? Would he link in and become part of an increasingly global network of collaboration? He would need to and so will design.
Design is changing as the world becomes more mediated by networks of self-organizing and self-interested people who want what they want when they want it. They crave the immediate and the intimate. They are filled with longing for connection, community and co-creation. They are refusing easy labels; they are not just consumers or producers, but designers, creating their own desires.
They are living in a world where economic insecurity has eroded purchasing power. They now long for what they can no longer buy. This is a challenge, not only for households, but also for nations, and our world. The challenge of wanting more than we can pay for is essentially the challenge of our time.
Desire for that which puts life at risk is addiction. Designers who nurture a desire for the fabulous and fun need not encourage addiction to the increasingly unobtainable. James Cameron got it right in Avatar. The desire for “unobtainium” destroys everything including red hot, luscious, life-affirming desire.
Join us, as we explore the changing nature of desire and the design DNA that is helping it to evolve.