Design in denial?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Design Museum, London

Once upon a time, designers were celebrated as people who dreamt of transforming the world. Today, it seems as if they are regularly blamed for that transformation: for increasing consumerism or for wasteful obsolescence. Once visionaries; today’s designers seems much more cautious.

Even with more access to tools, techniques and materials, designers are happy to restrict their palette for the sake of ethical, social or environmental considerations. Design is seldom discussed in its own terms. Many designers increasingly defend design by doing stuff-other-than-design. In fact, they are more likely to stress design’s moral contribution to myriad issues including responsible consumption, social inclusion and sustainable living.

A panel of four designers will question this, asking if it is legitimate, if designers are simply capturing the cultural ‘zeitgeist’ or if design is in denial?


Clive Grinyer: director of design, Orange France Telecom

Austin Williams: associate professor in architecture, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China; producer, FCP Ltd for NBSTV; convenor, Bookshop Barnies

Patrick Cox: executive creative director, Wolff Olins; designer, London 2012 logo

Tom Dunmore: editor-in-chief, Stuff and

Jonathan Barnbrook: typographer/designer and founder of Virus Foundry

Chair: Martyn Perks: director, Thinking Apart; co-author, Big Potatoes: the London manifesto for innovation