How Good Design Failed Us
April 4, 2019
In 1958, the American radical sociologist C. Wright Mills was invited to address the International Design Conference, in Aspen. The lecture he gave, “Man in the Middle: The Designer,” criticized a number of its audience members for being willing dupes in the grand illusion that was consumer society. “Wants do not originate in some vague realms of the consumer’s personality,” he said. “They are formed by an elaborate apparatus of jingle and fashion, of persuasion and fraud.”
… Jony Ive, of Apple, a self-proclaimed adept of Rams, lovingly crafts smooth, chamfered edges for his company’s world-conquering products. The aesthetic is precise, alluring—but the objects are designed to meet a suspiciously early obsolescence. Indeed, most of the things that we hold in our hands and stare at, day after day, are examples of “good design”—great design, even, in terms of their inextricability from life. But more and more their social benefit seems questionable.