Industrial Design is a very broad field, open for interpretation and manipulation. As an industrial Designer you have the ability to go down any given path within the design realm. Unfortunately, many designers choose to become mass manufacturers of products. In essence, these designers are the basis for many of the problems that plaque our society. Contrastingly, there are designers who take social and environmental matters into their design processes who counteract the mass production tendencies of this other half of industrial designers.
In my opinion, designing with environmental and social responsibility is the most crucial. When most people buy products, they are only renting garbage. Most products spend a small portion of their lifetimes in the hands of the consumer, and a majority of their life in the trash. Thusly, designers should focus more on designing a solution for the death of products. What happens after its life? Will it end up in a land fill or in the frame of a car? Many countries around the world have shown their innovative nature in this way. Take for example the country of Germany, where landfills became overcrowded relatively quickly. 15 years later, they have re molded their society around the idea of social responsibility.
This notion of a product having multiple lives opens up a whole window of opportunity for designers to utilize. This new philosophy could open up a new point of view for design science. Instead of making products that live linearly, you could create a product that would circle through its existence indefinitely. A fast food container could be hydroponically modified so that when the consumer is through using it they are able to throw it in their garden, providing the plants with nutrients. In this way, we must think of products as humans. Once we are dead, our body returns t the earth and fuels the next generation of life. We are perpetuated in our death, and I believe that products should be too.
If designers collaboratively have this mentality, it would mean the end of bad design. There wouldn’t be any more plastic diapers or paper cups, every aspect of design would be calculated and planned. This ideal may seem utopian and socialistic, but it is necessary if our goal as designers is truly to better society. I believe that one day all products will be constructed out of the physical and spiritual aspects of “dead” products. This evolution will inset more meaning into the mundane, and restructure the defined elements of design.
Humans have a knack for creating their own problems. It is our nature to make messes, and then clean up. However, it is this process that gives us our wit and innovative nature. Things like climate change are necessary for our evolution as a species. It is a catalyst, brought forth by the one and only mankind. Without this threat, there would be no reason to change our ways. Now that we are confronted, we must remember that thing Darwin said. Adapt or Die.