Osasto: Design leadership

Tekijä: Haas Isabella

Työn nimi: Creating a sustainable society: the role of the industrial designer

The future of industrial design seems to be heavily under discussion, but where is it heading? Today, most of the predominating methods of production and consumption are harmful to our environment including economic, social and ecological structures. The designer being part of this system has in many ways contributed to this development. One thing is quite clear: together with other professionals involved in industrial production, designers have to participate in trying to solve the rising economic, social, and ecological problems that contemporary society is struggling with. Therefore the role of the designer working for industries has to be re-defined.

In recent discourses, many ideas and concepts have been presented by theorists from different disciplines, emphasising an urgent need to shift from the current pattern of development to a more sustainable one. This thesis will deal with some of the main concepts on sustainability and design taken from crucial articles by the design theorists John Hirst and Ezio Manzini, in order to present a vision of the development in industrialised societies. The main ideas behind these concepts be analysed with the aim of formulating questions which will be used as key topics within several interviews with practitioners. These interviews will help to explore the possible limits and current application of these contemporary concepts. For that purpose, designers from a range of different design disciplines in Finland will be interviewed. How these designers see themselves in relation to producers and users today and in the future be investigated, comparing their experience to the theoretical concepts. Hence, the questions arise what do these concepts indicate about the changing role of the designer, and which of these concepts are applicable in the immediate future. Which of those ideas are applicable in such a way that we are able to experience the benefits these alternatives promise to bring us if we would change the way we think and live?

From an analysis of the case Studies, conclusions be drawn showing the limitations of the concepts in real life, what kinds of change might occur and the new fields of activity to which designers might be led. The aim of this work is to define the first practical steps to be taken by designers in order to contribute to the development towards a sustainable society.