Designing into the Next Decade Design

Designing into the Next Decade Design

Today’s designers are eager for their design work to be seen in a wider world. They test their skills in non-traditional areas like finance, conflict and health; they are becoming more confident in design’s ability to add cultural and human value to new areas.

This is the context for CUSP: Designing into The Next Decade, presented by Object Australia Design Centre (where i’m chair), an ambitious national touring exhibit that opened in Sydney last year at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. It’s currently on display at the Jam Factory in Adelaide and will travel to five other galleries across Australia until August 2015.

Bruce Mau, a Canadian designer, was the one who introduced us to the big design movement in 2004. The Vancouver Art Gallery commissioned the exhibition Massive Change. Mau’s first page of the accompanying book is here. Design is often invisible to most people until it fails.

Mau saw that the world was changing fundamentally and that designers were not responsible for designing within that world. We began to see economies, medicine and electricity as the outcomes of highly complex, but still designed systems.

Mau outlined the shift in design cultures from creating manufacturing objects to designing integrated process, just four years before the global financial crises

The moment of great change was upon us. From the modern-day industries to the new information environment, design was on the horizon. How can a world that Mau describes as a design one be so flawed? Maybe Mau was right. We are seeing design everywhere, because everything seems in dire need of repair. Design is the art of navigating work and daily life beyond the rare air of Alessi teapots.

Design For Maximum Impact

CUSP features 12 Australian designers whose skills range from architecture and jewelry to graphic information systems to fashion to sonic installations to interactive wallpaper, indigenous inspiration to steampunk humour.

This show is a collection of diverse designers that brings together a group of talented and creative people. Their shared ambition to create enormous effects with small, thoughtful actions. Danielle Robson, curator. Each project is a reflection of concern for humanity’s progress and wellbeing.

Leah Heiss, a jewelry designer, believes that small can make a big impact. Her work deals with the stigma associated with medical prostheses that indicate impairment. Instead, she offers jewelry that makes insulin injections for diabetics a private act behind fashion statements (a ring), giving the wearer the power to disclose and treat.

George Khut, an interaction designer, also deals with medicine. However, he focuses on children undergoing painful and serious medical procedures. The iPad interface uses the rhythms in the body to control the calm environment on the screen, giving the patient control and reducing anxiety before the procedure.

Stephen Mushin’s drawings as an ecological industrial designer are among the most impressive contributions to the exhibition. His unlikely bio-organic machines, while plausible fantasies, are well-researched and have led to prototypes of human-powered aquaponic systems that can be used for food production in developing countries.

Greg Moore, data visualisation expert, self-described data poetry. Mari Veloniki, artist, robot-inspiring responsive wall paper. While they are radically different, both take technology outside of our comfort zones and create platforms for information sharing. These prototypes for experiential information system might be best described as prototypes.