Q2 What was the role of design in the past, what is it now and where is it going?
In the past it was very structured, very prescriptive, we had a problem so we built a machine to fix the problem. Now we have machines that could need fixing themselves, at some point we'll realise that machines don't always fix the problems, sometimes you need to reengineer societies. Out of that comes the notion of empathy within design and human centred design, a lot of that has been very useful to humanity.
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We are now digging deeper into empathy and human centred design, now I think we need to move design with that. It needs to be inclusive, it can't just come from one perspective, you can't talk about human centred designed from just say a white male perspective, you need to include different people in the production of those designs and the process of those designs, by doing that you reach a more diverse outcome. I think that's where the future is going, I think the future is inclusivity in design, not only in hiring people to design but then as a result of that the products that come out of that. Whether it's government policy, engineering, I believe will tend to include more and tend to serve the population better. For me, I deal a lot with Afrofuturist and Speculative Design with regard to Afrofuturism and I think that that idea of design coming from the ground up as opposed to the top down allows people ownership of the design and as a result of their future. It allows them ownership of the way they reconfigure their present to yield a better future for them.
I think design does come from, in a sense, the ground, the land, because your history, your background builds into whatever you design. So you can imagine different communities approach different problems different as a result of their experience, the communal history as it were. I think that history then is imbued in the objects themselves, one of the projects that I'm doing now is creating objects of African futures and what I argue is that by observing these objects in an anthropological way we can then understand those cultures. So in the same way one could think about objects that are designed from a ground up approach of different cultures as saying something about those cultures and I think that when we have multiple objects, multiple design solutions from multiple cultures we get a better sense of those cultures and those design solutions also address particularly those cultures, they're objects or design solutions that come from the outside, that have nothing to do with the culture themselves. Part of that too, if we're talking about the future of design, is the ability to manufacture, so with open source Arduino or Makerbot, that is really really very important. You can see that happening in quote unquote third world nations where the idea of repurposing is so important that taking trash and reorganising it, taking fabrics and reorganising it and now the ability to reorganise all of that with rapid prototyping methods and open source methods, all of that is very key to what I think the future of design would be.