Needs

This week’s article about needs made some interesting points, although the main idea that our society often consumes way more than we need, is not news to me. The sentence in the article that says 20 percent of the world’s population consumes 80 percent of the Earth’s natural resources is a kind way of saying American’s are greedy resource hogs. One thing I do appreciate about all the articles we read is how well they articulate the situation. Although I am aware of our natural environment and its limited resources, I could never explain the direness of the situation so eloquently. Just being aware of the situation is only half the equation though. The other half, for me, has yet to be written. The other half is what I will do about the situation that makes a difference. Right now I still feel like I am in information gathering mode and all the information is just churning in my mind. Some of the ideas and theories we learn about are inspiring, and others are not. To me, Max Neef’s taxonomy of human needs was not at all helpful. It was just a big chart with a lot of categories and columns, and too confusing to keep straight. In our class activity when we had to determine which needs fit different situations, we all had different ideas and the whole process seemed too ambiguous.

There were two ideas in the needs article that were simply ingenious to me as a designer.  One was Elisheva Cohen-Fried’s capelet, made to be finished by mother and child, which was such a thoughtful and creative idea to connect emotion to a garment and “design for what truly matters”. The other idea that really stood out to me was Alex Martin’s “Little Brown Dress” that she wore every day for a year. I love this idea for so many reasons; one it would simplify life so much, it would truly stimulate personal creativity just trying to style it in different ways, and it would allow one the opportunity to focus valuable time and effort on so many other important things in life besides “what’s trending now” or “what else do I think I “need”. This idea is so inspiring to me, I actually think I would like to try it, but I’m not to the point of committing to a whole year yet!

Something I enjoyed in the design activism article was Alice Water’s edible schoolyard where schools grew their own produce while teaching kids about where their food comes from. The way I interpret this for apparel design is to teach people to make their own garments. Or even better, teaching them to make their own fabrics. Of course, some people do make their own garments and fabrics now (weaving and knitting), but a larger scale movement could provide an opportunity to educate more people about sustainability issues and encourage slow knowledge and keeping products local.

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