The distaste for work in the commercial area implied in the First Things First Manifesto 2000 (DW 17 September) shows a worrying elitism. It is implied that work on producing effective packaging, attractive shop interiors, shopping malls and any other activity that involves aspirational consumption is at best tainted, and at worst, morally wrong.
I’m a consumer. Yes, I’m one of those plebs from Essex who go to shopping centres such as Lakeside to buy non-essential goods that will enhance my quality of life. And I’m not ashamed of it.
Yet the tone of First Things First implies that because I have aspirations to enjoy well-produced and designed consumer goods, me and my fellow working class shoppers at Lakeside are morally suspect. If the writers of the manifesto have a problem with people like me, they could at least be honest about it.
As well as enjoying well-designed and presented consumer goods, I also enjoy buying them in shops where effort and imagination has gone into devising an attractive retail environment. What is more preferable, buying sports shoes in some grotty, out-of-town retail shed with no design input or visiting London’s NikeTown, which is an example of innovative retail design? Equally as important, is where would a shop worker prefer to work, in an environment with a touch of class and glamour or in the above-mentioned shed?
Design is partly about enhancing the quality of people’s lives. As a consumer, I appreciate the work of product designers, packaging designers and interior designers in making my shopping experience enjoyable.
What I do not appreciate is the preaching tone of some critics who are dismissive about the aspirations of ordinary people for decent products.