Designing for Others

This week, the article that was really interesting to me was the article about Design Activism by Brown. The article had some really good points that were made. The article wants us to look deeper into how we design for other people. Instead of just making what seems to be a sustainable product, look at how people will use it. Will their culture allow them to use the product? Will the manufacturing of the product be sustainable? Will the consumer even be able to afford the ‘sustainable’ option?

One example the author writes about is that in India, many farmers cannot afford expensive irrigation products, so a company, IDE, has started selling products that only last up to two seasons. Although this seems really unsustainable for Americans, this allows the farmers in India to make a profit, allowing them to save up money for a real irrigation system in the future.

The most technological option is not always the option that everyone can afford. Many countries need a less sustainable and less expensive option to get by. This article also goes back to the idea of emphatic design. If the consumer we are designing for cannot afford what we are selling, then the product is no longer sustainable. If the use of the product is sustainable, but the manufacturing produces waste and pollution, then the product’s sustainability makes no sense.

I believe that as designers and merchandisers, we need to do more research about the consumer we are selling to. As merchandisers, we need to do more research on the items that we are selling to our customers. Even though the product may say ‘sustainable,’ doesn’t always mean it is!

I believe that doing more research will benefit us in the long run. It might take us more time, but it will be worth it. More research may end up equaling being more sustainable.

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