Friday, 5 February 2010

The consumption of design...

After having read chapter 4 of "The Culture of Design" and having a lecture from service designer David Townson this morning it has stirred my thinking onto a deeper level about how being a consumer in this society and more importantly studying textile design within this society is a constant battle. Would you agree if I said that consumption is solely a monetary exchange? That no matter what we do each day even if the task is free, fundamentally someone had to pay for it somewhere along the line. For example if you visit a museum which has free entry you are to a certain extent gaining from this experience but that exhibition, that museum still has a monetary value and has been invested in by someone at point making it connected to consumption. We are living in a consumer driven society which we cannot get away from, even if consciously we don't always realise it. For instance when I consume a product or get my hair cut I don't automatically think about what sector I consumed from, (social,service, etc). It is not in our humanly conscious, we consume in these fields through instinct.

So I pose the question can we survive without being a consumer? How in the past did people survive without being engrossed and obsessed with consumption? I guess we could say at this stage there is a point between existence and now but then we need to recognise that these are miles apart. This could potentially be due to the shift in human behaviour, the sheer amount of manipulation which surrounds us. We cannot today get away from this consumer driven due to the amount of peer pressure and the amount of publicity and advertising. Society is now at the stage of want not need, therefore does this 'want' drive consumerism?

On another level how does this relate to textiles, how can we design if people don't want? As a young designer I would say we are forced into participating in this consumer drive. This makes mixes up a few emotions, I feel that to fight this would be incredible and potentially could be an amazing turn around but it is the fact that it would be such a difficult thing to do. A true passion and drive would need to be evident to hold you as a designer aiming to make a difference firm otherwise in my opinion there are too many stumbling blocks out there. This is a serious issue as the upcoming generation of designers we need to consider and not take it lightly otherwise we will miss our chance however scary it may be.

I suppose it all comes round to identity as well. In the chapter 'The consumption of design' it was stated about how our society being unstable reflects on the relationship of consumption and identity, therefore meaning identities are constantly changing. It goes onto talk about Slater's idea about mass producing and as a result reducing consumption creating 'prosumers'. He talks about consumption as a "private politically passive act which ignores reality that individuals also engage in a public realm with consumption." Basically bringing it back to thinking about the difference between a private and public space.

Finally, the last issue I want to mention is about whether or not we perpetuate consumption? In a sense I feel we do as we are now overproducing to satisfy a consumer driven society not only the thirst. This in turn then raises the issue about obsolescence and sustainability. In the textile field and in particular in the fashion industry. For instance, the trends change every season which drives consumerism. It is a very vicious circle in my opinion and something which is always ongoing and could pose many many questions but the final question I want to leave you with is does textiles perpetuate obsolescence?

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