There are professions more harmful than industrial design,
but only a very few of them. And possibly only one profession is phonier.
Advertising design, in persuading people to buy things they don't need,
with money they don't have,
in order to impress others who don't care,
is probably the phoniest field in existence today.
Industrial design, by concocting the tawdry idiocies hawked by advertisers,
comes a close second.
Never before in history have grown men sat down and seriously designed electric hairbrushes, rhinestone-covered file boxes,
and mink carpeting for bathrooms,
and then drawn up elaborate plans to make and sell these gadgets to millions of people.
Before (in the 'good old days'),
if a person liked killing people,
he had to become a general,
purchase a coal-mine,
or else study nuclear physics.
Today, industrial design has put murder on a mass-production basis.
By designing criminally unsafe automobiles
that kill or maim nearly one million people around the world each year,
by creating whole new species of permanent garbage to clutter up the landscape,
and by choosing materials and processes that pollute the air we breathe,
designers have become a dangerous breed.
And the skills needed in these activities are taught carefully to young people.
In an age of mass production when everything must be planned and designed,
design has become the most powerful tool with which man shapes his
tools and environments (and, by extension, society and himself).
This demands high social and moral responsibility from the designer.
It also demands greater understanding of the people
by those who practice design
and more insight into the design process by the public.
Not a single volume on the responsibility of the designer,
no book on design that considers the public in this way,
has ever been published anywhere.
In February 1968,
Fortune magazine published an article that foretold the end of the industrial design profession. Predictably, designers reacted with scorn and alarm.
But I feel that the main arguments of the Fortune article are valid.
It is about time that industrial design,
as we have come to know it,
should cease to exist.
As long as design concerns itself with confecting trivial 'toys for adults',
killing machines with gleaming tailfins,
and ‘sexed-up' shrouds for typewriters, toasters, telephones, and computers,
it has lost all reason to exist.
Victor Papanek....in design for the real world