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How We Find New Meaning through Design

“Design is all over the place.”

Design has now become extremely fashionable. Just turn on your TV and you’ll be amazed at how many programs are dedicated to design. Not a single day goes by without TV hosts mentioning interior decoration, trends, design items, design environments or companies who are taking to manufacturing design items.

As if companies instantly ceased to be seen as mere factories and were deemed virtuous as soon as they resorted to design. “Design is all over the place,” as if we needed to find new meaning, new value in all items surrounding us, down to the plainest candle reminiscent of places of worship we have deserted. We need to find new meaning, new values, an identity and this trickles down to items such as blenders, because the world is becoming global, cultures are intermingling and prompting us question our beliefs. There is something pantheistic in the way design is increasingly used as a reference, and this seems to dispel our doubts about our own spirituality.

Hyper-Customizing Items to Find New Meaning

Our thirst for meaning is so strong that we need to see ourselves in the items surrounding us. Familiar items reflect who we are and tell something about our own identity. We did not buy them randomly; they are within us and around us. They are part of us. Today we are even expected to make these items with our own hands if we can. What a joy to be able to build our environment ourselves, to have a say – about colors, shapes, functions – in the design process prior to production. This way we can “hyper-customize” items to make them entirely ours.

Marketing has taught us for a while that each customer wants to be “unique” and treated as such. Product segmentation answers this need to stand out. However a new trend is emerging: many companies who resettled their plants in China or elsewhere no longer aim to turn out benefits, they strive to produce differently. Industrials must come up with new production methods: include customers in the pre-design reflection. Customers will never be designers but they need to believe they could be. Only the cynical will see this method as a trick played on customers. It is definitely not. This practice is a tremendous opportunity for designers and non-designers to work together and build the world they wish to live in.

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