Where'd You Get That? Beyond Functionality and Beauty in Design.

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Where'd You Get That? Beyond Functionality and Beauty in Design.

By Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown

Good design? Are your chairs sexy? Do you buy those ugly helical light bulbs or the cool clear ones that cost too much?  Are you a J Press/Land Rover person or a Tar-Zhay/Prius person?  More than ever before, we seem to define ourselves by the products we consume.  While the internet has increased the rate at which design fashions and concepts sweep across the globe, it has also made us more aware that much of the world doesn’t care about design because they don’t have enough food and water, adequate shelter, and access to health care. Chair design doesn’t mean much to someone whose home was just wiped out by tsunami or earthquake.  In the internet age, consumers with enough money to care about the thread count on their sheets are bombarded daily with images from around the world of people suffering from the latest disaster.  Some people manage to avert their eyes, but many of us start to wonder how design can matter in a world with so much hardship.  Design isn’t going away, but it can develop more of a conscience. What if who makes a product and how it is made were to matter as much as beauty and functionality? What if design could make our connection to the rest of the world sexier than making us feel superior? A bracelet hand made of recycled materials by an artisan making a living wage in Haiti tells the world you have better taste than someone wearing a Rolex.