It’s good to see creative and social idealism still at work in the design industry with the First Things First Manifesto 2000 (DW 17 September). But I have a suspicion that beneath the idealism lurks something deeper and more complex – a fundamental unease with being involved in commerce.
As such, this mainly British phenomenon harks back to the days when dowager duchesses said things like: “But my dear, he’s in trade’.
There’s nothing wrong with commercial involvement. Commerce supplies people with things that they need as well as things that they want. I have known design projects that have created so much demand that factories have been opened in the Far East, and the poor given a job as a result. People need sanpro products – so where’s the shame in designing them?
I applaud the spirit that drives the writers of the manifesto to wish to “explore a new kind of meaning”. But I think they are confused. Is that what they really wanted – or are they just culturally opposed to the world of “dog biscuits, designer coffee, diamonds, detergents and cigarettes”? When we smart, urban, middle-class designers find the butt-toner consumer rather amusing, are we so very different from the dowager duchess?
Planning and development director