LETTER FROM THE ED­I­TOR

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Weve strived to keep most of our pur­suits un­tainted by eth­i­cal bias. Its a form of free­dom we in­voke to un­bur­den our in­qui ries of any mo­ral re­spon­si­bil­ity. How lib­er­at­ing!We pur­sue things for them­selves, con­vinced that do­ing so would lead us to the best pos­si­ble re­sult, that by keep­ing a pseudo sci­en­tific stance, we op­er­ate in a hy­gienic en­vi­ron­ment a clean room where ob­jec­tives, hy­pothe­ses, pro­ce­dures and con­clu­sions are un­re­strained by a spe­cific goal. We in­sist on a cold read­ing of facts.

If a chem­i­cal in­hibit­ing the growth of ma­lig­nant tis­sues in lab mon­keys is iden­ti­fied, iso­lated and for­mu­lated into a vac­cine, we in­sist on a mo­ral code free pro­to­col. The ap­pli­ca­tions of the vac­cine come after it has left the lab­o­ra­tory. Whether it is used on the rich peo­ple who can af­ford it, or the gravely ill ir­re­spec­tive of their eco­nomic pro­file, or the young who still have their lives ahead of them, falls out­side the in­qui ry it­self. As I un­der­stand, chemists dont nec­es­sar­ily de­velop com­pounds for a spe­cific mar­ket they do so for a par­tic­u­lar non mo­ral goal;i ts the phar­ma­cist who of­ten has a hand on a mar­ket agenda, un­der a direc­tive from the pharma com­pany that they work for, who will then brand, mar­ket and sell the drug through the stores.

Among de­sign­ers this is very rarely the de­sign ground zero. They of­ten de­sign with end goals in mind, if not some highly spe­cific sit­u­a­tions where they imag­ine their de­signs end­ing up. (They of­ten per­tain to aes­thetic co­her­ence, although more de­sign­ers are in­cor­po­rat­ing mo­ral or at least so­cial im­per­a­tives in their work.) Bril­liant de­sign­ers, in fact, ap­proach their task brim­ming with de­tails a co­her­ent de­sign strat­egy that takes into ac­count all pos­si­bil­i­ties.

Frank Lloyd Wrights de­sign for Falling­wa­ter, the ar­chi­tec­tural land­mark he de­signed for Edgar Kauf­mann, Sr. in ru­ral south­west­ern Penn­syl­va­nia, is an ex­cel­lent case in point. We know from the ar­chi­tect him­self, as well as from com­men­ta­tors, that when Wright de­signed the pro­ject in 1935, he had in mind to in­cor­po­rate not just the wa­ter but also the sounds it would make. In­stead of con­struct­ing the struc­ture at the bot­tom of the wa­ter­fall, where it could take in the spec­tac­u­lar view of the cas­cades, he chose to perch it par­tially on the wa­ter right above the wa­ter­fall.

An­other great ex­am­ple of co­her­ent de­sign is the SAS Royal Ho­tel in down­town Copen­hagen by Arne Ja­cob­sen, which has stood for moder­nity and clas­sic Scan­di­na­vian de­sign since its launch in 1960. Ja­cob­sen de­signed not only the build­ing but also its in­te­ri­ors all the way to its fur­ni­ture. The color of the walls, the type of tim­ber for the in­ter­nal struc­ture, the chairs in the com­mon and pri­vate rooms, in­clud­ing the up­hol­stery, were all planned and ap­proved by Ja­cob­sen. Most of th­ese de­signs re­main with us, most no­tably the Swan and Egg chairs, which have re­mained in com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion un­til to­day.

Un­like sci­en­tific in­ven­tions, de­sign for hu­man­ity has well de­fined goals. Nowa­days, fore­most in de­sign­ers agenda are en­vi­ron­men­tal con­scious­ness and sus­tain­abil­ity. So­cial agenda such as in­clu­siv­ity are also start­ing to come into play. Th­ese are on top of user spe­cific re­qui re­ments and pro­fes­sional stan­dards, in­clud­ing those that cover user safety, which are un­der­stood and en­forced in­ter­na­tion­ally with some re­gional vari­a­tions. And th­ese are goals that merit sup­port from the con­sumers, as well as from man­u­fac­tur­ers, and ev­ery­one else down the pro­duc­tion line.

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