Monday, April 14, 2014

Thinking of Bad Design as an Invasive Species

By Tim Shotts

During my recent trip to the Dominican Republic I helped remove invasive species from the Escuela Ambiental Recinto #2.  Elvis, a staff member in charge of removing invasives, taught us why and how to remove two invasives on the property.  The invasive species were introduced for food for cattle and wood to burn as fuel, but they have become out of control.  They take up water and nutrients that the indigenous plants that they are trying to cultivate.  There are a couple ways to combat invasives.  The first is to spray pesticides on the area, but that method is not usually organic and it will also kill indigenous plants.  The second is to painstakingly pull and dig plants out and get as much of the roots as possible.  The plants are then laid in the sun to kill the roots. 

Similarly, we have bad design both in architecture and in the products we use.  We have developed fast and efficient solutions to a problem and they have spread rapidly.  One of those is the pole-barn.  They’re pre-engineered, low-cost, and have a really low price per square foot.  However, they’re being converted into offices, and used as homes.  This really isn’t a problem, but these structures are making architects irrelevant but are using the same materials and resources but not producing a building as good as it could be. 

So how do we fix this?  We make good design more accessible!   I’ve recently watched Objectified (you should all watch it too), and Paola Antonelli, Design Curator for MOMA said that she grew up with good design not because her family was wealthy, but because that’s what you could find on the corner.

“We are surrounded by arbitrariness and thoughtlessness in our designed world and it’s unnecessary. “
“We have too many unnecessary things”
“Good design should be innovative.”
“Good design should make a product useful”
“Good design is aesthetic design”
“Good design will make a product understandable”
“Good design is honest”
“Good design is unobtrusive”
“Good design is long-lived”
“Good design is consistent in every detail”
“Good design is environmentally friendly”
“Good design is as little design as possible”

                -Dieter Rams, former design director for Braun, Kronberg, Germany

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