Why design needs a recession.

image from: http://uk.kef.com/muon


words The Icon Team, August 2007

Fat-cat designers draining limited-edition buckets of Cristal and swinging from Swarovski chandeliers at the Gdansk Biennial… where did it all go wrong? As it has in the rest of society, celebrity power has opened up a parallel universe in the design economy. There, a select group of stars can rake in the cash with bits on the side, no matter how lumpen, thoughtless or silly those
Designer furniture for children
As the expanding design economy thrusts towards new markets, children have become the latest target. Between Habitat’s VIP kids range, which includes dolls designed by Yves Saint-Laurent, and Vitra’s diminutive version of the Panton chair, anyone would think kids care about such things. Do we really want image-conscious toddlers?

£100,000 speakers
This year Ross Lovegrove made a two-metre-high speaker system encased in super-formed aluminium worth £100,000 for British audio brand KEF. Do they sound any better? Who cares?
Design week mania
Every third- and fourth-tier city in the world seems to want to rebrand as a design city. Belgrade, Budapest, Ljubljana, Solihull? In a recession, these places would actually have to have a significant design scene of their own rather than just flying in the usual suspects for a photo opportunity. The same goes for design conferences: we’d rather have a few good ones than a dozen where no one’s bothered to prepare presentations and audiences get nothing but hot air. Also, if Rem and Zaha are on the billing, we want them to show up.


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