Filed under: Social design
More thoughts on the practice I am hoping to carve through my work with organisation M. I feel as if I am leaving behind the ‘myth’ and ‘mysticism’ that designers hold on to like a security blanket – designer’s attachment to ‘things’ and the creative process of making ‘things’. I know I am distinctly different to designers like my friend Luke, Stu or Keith for that reason, where that security blanket is what defines who they are and what they do.
So, what kind of designer am I trying to be? I know education has had an enormous affect on my practice – to the point that I feel as if I am educator when I am with M, rather than a designer. By letting go of the security blanket, I am more open to embrace our process of discussion and where it may go as content and outcome of every meeting we have. By doing this, I have also let go of the common tactics used by designers of presenting 3 options strategically so that the client will chose the one that designers would want. The ‘things’ I use in meetings with M are now more to trigger discussions or consolidate decision making. My role is to facilitate this. The visualisations or ‘things’ I have designed have been effective in focusing on certain issues and catalytic in moving from one point to the next very quickly. The visualisations have also served more purpose for them when they have asked me to let them present it to the government/other stakeholders. I have been very surprised by this – that they were willing to use it as a tool for their discussion as well.
The role I see as a facilitator, rather than a ‘problem solver’ is also interesting. The problem solving paradigm had always bothered me (I am sure it surfaces many times in this blog) but yesterday, it had occurred to me that to ’solve a problem’, requires one to see things objectively, remotely and act as a ’saviour’ to those who need it solved. This thought was initially prompted by Dori Tunstall talk that I attended last week. I have already written about here previously in my blog (titled ‘more on values’ under human values category) and was reminded that her Design Anthropology or Design for Democracy held no real values of a democratic process. In my opinion, she has a strong (and scary, almost religious) conviction of what values she deems are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ – democracy is right and anything else isn’t – and she sees that her role is to implement it. As to what democracy means to people, how questionable it could be and being open to a democratic ways of discussing it, is not a consideration for her. Though, what is scary is that she is unaware that this is what she is doing – and infact, I would not be surprised if she thinks she is a ‘neutral’ or ‘objective’ actor in this whole process. She is not interested in the complexity and chaos of life – she is more interested in giving order and clarity to this world, organising it in the way she sees fit. Laurene mentioned that ‘radical’ anthropology (which came about in the 80s) was allowing people to name themselves, rather than the ‘labels’ that anthropologists have given them. Perhaps Dori comes from the pre-80s era..?
I might be harsh on Dori, but her activities are not dissimilar to many over-zealous designers whose idea is to give order to the world, to ’save’ poor people from their mistakes and be a messiah of truth. Brrrr. And their religious tools are ‘things’ – they give them power and mysticism to perform such ‘miracles’. It is a paradigm based on difference and hierarchy.