Wednesday, 12 August 2009

7x7 upload

Tonight was one of the big nights of my Sydney Design festival calendar as the 7x7 Designer talk series was held at the Powerhouse. Run by the DIA it had a great line up of, as the name suggests seven designers of varying fields. And in the cross discipline spirit of the event the logo was created by an architect (Peter at campbellbarnett).

The speakers were:
Peter Black - Architect
John Brown - Product/industrial designer

While the individual talks were great the themes running through the data presented were where the truths lay. The 7x7 theme was future predictions, but the responses were very current and underlined the values every designer aspires to. So here is my interpretation of what I can remember.

1. Create to meet the purpose. It's the old form follows function catch cry revisited. With the current economic climate, sustainability and technological trends the consumer is (or believes themselves to be) very savvy. This means that people are judging not only the design, but also the perceived value or energy consumer in the realisation of the work.

2. Being savvy the consumer is looking for a point of difference, an originality, and an authenticity. With thousands of knock offs showing up in markets the value is in the quality, and this new wave of consumers are more prepared to save for the premium product as it will become a 'badge' they can wear.

3. Desireability and aspirational are two words that are slowly blending in the stew that is my brain, but in our future designer world the icons of the generation like the iPhone will have become common and the savvy shopper is looking for something special, not off the production line and onto the shelf. They want their purchase to have been cared for from concept through to creation or communication, or even the hand over of keys.
Limited editions are a great example of this quality and Ana Maria's example of one hundred handbags selling out in 5 days despite the price tag of $950 demonstrates the pulling power of quality workmanship. Or if you are a bicycle fan the creations at Deus ex Machina, whose off the shelf individualism makes them very desireable.

4. Next in the firing line is personalisation which has the potential to blow a hole in the bow of sustainability. To personalise you blog is easy, to personalise your car/house/aeroplane isn't. To create a balance between what can be done and where the limits lay should be compared to the environmental costs before offering 40,000 varients of a product which performs the same task.

I'm probably blurring the lines between my points so don't get too stressed out as I attempt to make 7 points for 7x7.

5. Along with wanting a high quality, sustainable product, with street cred, in a limited edition and personalised (wtf) they also want it to have a story. Not a once upon a time, but more of a from humble origins, family business grown through interesting times with interesting people sprinkled through their photo albums kind of story. Whether this story extends back a week or a century they want to know what makes the brand tick. Kind of like nudie or moleskin.

6. Following on from wanting a story the consumer then wants to see, feel or experience the authenticity. The same way being able to see the chef doting over your meal makes your experience better, is how your consumer wants you to care for your work. Passion ignites passion. It is this grandure and sense of meticulous attention to detail that has Volkswagen purchasers in Germany travelling to Wolfsburg to collect their new chariot from the towers (image at top of post) at the autostadt. The theatre of the location and the presentation as it is drawn from the column and brought before them is why they didn't opt to take it from the car lot in Halle.

7. Last but not least local materials make sense. With the cost of transport no longer limited to monetary values, but also measures in carbon footprint we need to look closer to home. The less distance it needs to travel the better, environmental credentials need to be thoroughly considered and careful consideration needs to be put into their use as a resource used in efficiently is a resource wasted.

In summary lets just say design should:
be quality; be authentic; have history (or a story); be sustainable; be personalised (whether real or perceived); use materials available locally and made by locals; finally it should be a badge proclaiming what the customer values, because very rarely does a person spend so much time searching for the first 6 criteria if they don't want everyone else to know that they are design savvy (sorry for the repeated use of 'savvy' in this blog, but it was the catch cry of the night).

Now that i have pulled together my seven which I have sharpened or blurred with the filter that is my memory I hope you can use it to justify some of your design decisions for the future.

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