LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
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.