Mary McBride, Featured Speaker at the International Design Symposium in Japan, on Post Solution
By Giselle Carr
The International Design Center in Tokyo, Japan recently hosted the International Design Symposium 2010 with the theme ‘Post Solution – The Creator’s View.’ Mary McBride, Director of the Design Management Program at Pratt Institute, spoke at sessions one and three of the symposium. Her sessions discussed the role of design with regard to social change and the responsibility of designers within that role. Both presentations conveyed the importance of design as a future-centered discipline, which is an imperative for the post solution economy. The post solution economy is one in which human and economic resources are invested into the design of everyday life. It’s an economy that is focused on needs-based, humanistic and sustainable solutions. The quality of our global material culture is being determined by the choices we make and actions we take now; therefore every individual – whether a creator, maker or consumer – should acknowledge the need for a responsibility-based culture and share in the collective goal of shaping a better tomorrow.
“As designers clearly play a key role in determining the nature of manufactured products, there is little doubt that they can have an exceptional influence on the expectations and buying habits of consumers. There is consequently a growing moral imperative for them to chart a new and better direction in design… by harnessing the advanced materials and technologies… designers should be able to create the types of ethical and relevant products that are needed for the future.”
– Designing for the 21st Century , Charlotte Fiell and Peter Fiell
This was not merely a discussion of future vision, but rather an invitation to remind each other that solutions for many of our current challenges already exist, and in many ways, we are already at the beginning of a post solution economy. The creative economy is emerging as the inventive solutions to challenges we face today are no longer visions, but are being implemented daily throughout the design disciplines. Design is the engine of innovation, and that engine is firing up across design disciplines around the world. Interior design has introduced us to a home that is free of toxins. Industrial design is removing the bromine, chloride and lead from products we use every day. Graphic design is slowly beginning to use soy-based inks and certified stocks of paper. Fashion design has begun to re-imagine what fashion forward can mean by giving us a new understanding of the relationship between textiles and the tactile experience.
Global consumers have begun to demand that an economy links common values, enables, and enlivens as it enriches. But designers, like business people, can become disconnected from the consequences of their designs and exclusively focus on artifact production. As business seeks competitive advantage in increasingly global markets, design offers a source of strategic advantage that is rooted in today, while creating ethical and relevant products needed for tomorrow.