Curious is how design, which initially started off with merely simple tools like the pencil and paper, among other materials, and with simple bold concepts, has now evolved into a process, system, service etc… It is following the path of an evolutional direction that involves design today in a much larger realm of reality than just design for the sake of design. And here I refer to conceptual approaches to design.
How has this focus changed from merely designing, to designing with empathy? Is it because we are fed up with the commodification of ideas, over commercialization of goods? Is it because we suddenly woke up and realized that we have a conscience and we want to save the world with design? Or is it because we are scared that if we don’t elevate design onto a lofty pedestal, we will all be obsolete as a species and disappear?
As much as I agree wholeheartedly with the need for the existence of design and its processes, its evolution to loftier ideals, in order for design to function in its newfound avatar, it needs for the other cogs in this wheel to also think and feel the same way. Are designers then as a collective reflecting the paradigm shift in society rather than just design itself?
In continuance with the thought that Professor Abadie directed me towards in the discussion board of Unit 1, I chanced upon this paper that was written on slow design, which essentially talks about the thoughts that I voiced in my earlier post, however, in greater detail. Alistair Fuad-Luke in his paper titled ‘Slow Design-A Paradigm Shift in Design Philosophy quotes educationalist Alain FIndeli seeing the present rise of the need for paradigm shift being characterized by three essential current modes – Design’s obsession with materialism, the whole problem –solution approach and the agnostic, dualistic world view. For decades now, Design has been driven by the industrial, commercial and economic factors thereby paying very marginal heed to sustainable approach to design which is sensitive in the long run to the needs of people, societies and communities at large. Design continues to feed into the economically and commercially driven aspects of businesses and services, putting at risk the world that lies beyond these mere economics. Current trends in Design approaches do not take into account the long term effects of this intense system of feeding into this commercialization on future generations. There is marginal thought given to the well being of people and its societies as it continues to feed into the consumer markets at different levels. This is a paradox, as Design is sensitive, creative, stemming from emotions. Where have we lost ourselves along the way? In feeding into this economic, commercially driven need to lead people and societies towards a materialistic life, have we lost ourselves? Where is empathy in Design? It has but a marginal presence being overshadowed by the aggressive marketing, business trends that exist in society today. Technological progress works hand in hand with this need to feed the progress of economy through creation and feeding of aspirations of people and society. Technological progress has seen an acceleration that is unprecedented and this in turn has had a direct impact on accelerated economic growth which has in turn had an effect on the way we approach design which helps feed this cycle.
This brings us to the world of decreased pace. Slow. A concept that has been rendered alien and almost snubbed by the accerated ‘progress’ that we perceive we have made in all aspects of our lives affected by economic ‘progress’. To quote again from Alistair Fuad-Luke’s paper on Slow Design-A Paradigm Shift in Design Philosophy, he uses the examples of two Italian movements, Slow Food and Slow Cities, to illustrate his point of the economic success of slow movements. Slow Food emerged to counteract the philosophy and dominance of fast food chains like McDonalds. Slow Cities movement came about in response to the traffic congestions, financial costs in commerce and health.
‘Most Men Pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.’ – Soren Kierkegaard. The World Institute of Slowness based in Scandianvia and is founded on the thought that people are not rats and life is not a race. This renders our current perspective on our approach towards life, towards design obsolete as we currently live in a world where products, goods and services are for ‘consumers’ not ‘people’. When the 14th Dalai Lama reflects upon the current state of society he sums our present state beautifully when he says :
We have bigger houses but smaller families
More conveniences but less time
We have more degrees but less sense
More knowledge but less judgement
More experts but more problems
More medicines but less healthiness
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back
But have trouble crossing the street
To meet the new neighbour.
We build more computers to hold more
Information to produce more copies than ever
But have less communication.
We have become long on quantity
But short on quality.
These are the times of fast foods
But slow digestion.
Tall men but short character
Steep profits but shallow relationships
It’s a times when there is much in the window
But nothing in the room. 
Where does this leave designers? We perhaps need to consider the benefits of slowing down our need to meet deadlines for commercial work. Yes, we have families to look after and many mouths to feed. But how much is enough? We have been lead to believe by our current economic and commercial trends, of what we should aspire to, what we should desire and that has become the basis of the chaos of the present work culture and present work goals driven mostly by commerce and economics and the so-called assumed needs generated thereof. As designers we are in a creative field that requires us to be sensitive, in tune with our inner spirituality. Slow design would give us the freedom to create the work we had set out as our initial goal when we came into this field and this would enable us to make a long-term genuine difference in the lives of people in our societies. This in turn will translate into true, genuine progress which takes into account not superficial created needs but the deeper, more fulfilling needs of societies and the earth. A return to the slow human centric approach to design. This is perhaps the paradigm shift in design. The ‘Zeitgeist’ of our times.
 Fuad-Luke, Alistair. Slow Design –A Paradigm Shift in Design Philosophy? http://www.researchgate.net/publication/228555968_Slow_Design_a_paradigm_shift_in_design_philosophy. Web. Accessed on 11.01.2013.
 World Institute of Slowness. http://www.theworldinstituteofslowness.com/