Bruce Nussbaum: Designers as the enemy of design

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\nIn a recent speech that he gave at Parsons School of Design in New York, Business Week's Bruce Nussbaum explains why there has been a backlash against design. According to Nussbaum, the design movement shows signs of faltering for two primary reasons -- designers are arrogant and designers are ignorant. They are arrogant when it comes to understanding the whole "Design Democracy" movement empowered by Web 2.0 and they are ignorant when it comes to understanding issues like eco-sustainability. To challenge the preconceptions of his audience when it comes to sustainability, Nussbaum points out that the mink coat is actually better designed than the Apple iPod:


"Let’s take your favorite toy, designed by one of today’s design gods,\nJonathan Ive and his team at Apple—the iPod. Apple does fantastic\nthings with materials. Amazing things. And it has recycling programs\nfor its products. But what it doesn’t do is prioritize cradle-to-cradle\ndesign. It doesn’t design a long-cycle product that you can open and\nupgrade over time. It doesn’t design a process that encourages the\nreuse materials again and again. It doesn’t demand sustainability. [...]

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Challenge Your Assumptions. Think about the mink coat. It is beyond\ncool. It’s sustainable. You feed those little rat-y things with garbage\nthat you throw out or food you grow, you create something that is\ncomfortable, beautiful and gives you warmth for your entire life, you\npass it along to another generation or recycle it or simply let it\ndisintegrate. It’s organic, after all."

Nussbaum also explains why "innovation" has become a broad umbrella term that includes "fashion" and "design" as well:

"A final point on language: Innovation and Design. Business men and\nwomen don’t like the term "design." I think they think it implies\ndrapes or dresses. Even top CEOs who embrace design don’t want to call\nit that. They want to call it "Innovation." That has a manly right to\nit. It’s strong, techie. These folks are perfectly willing to use the\nword "vision," whatever the heck "vision" is. They like "Imagination,"\nwhatever the heck that is. But they don’t like "design." Go figure.

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\nI solve this problem by calling it all a banana. Innovation, design,\neco-imagination, just call it whatever they want to call it and do your\ndesign thing. Because your design thing is a glorious thing that has\nthe potential of changing our lives in a myriad of ways in a myriad of\nplaces."

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[image: Bruce Nussbaum]

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  • The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.

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