I want to share some good news with you.
There have never been so many designers on the planet!
There’s no doubt about it! We no longer live in the era of industry, under the dictatorship of engineers. We now live in the era of design, illuminated by the creativity of designers.
That must be why my friend, the designer Marco Merendi, for the Salone 2010 is making a sticker with "PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I DESIGN" (reference to Jenny Holzer and her "PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT)
In 1994 there were 10 schools of architecture in Italy, 4 Higher Institutes of Artistic Industry and three major private design schools. Today in Italy there are over 100 faculty strands, schools, courtses of study, degree programs, and 'master places' where Design is taught.
The magazine Domus, I think in 2006, drew a map with more than 600 universities and design schools all over the world. Actually there are over a thousand, and like museums one is being set up every week.
How many schools of design, architecture, video art etc, are there in Turkey? How many in Istanbul?
In itself it’s a good thing: hundreds of thousands of young people no longer have to work in factories, banks or hospitals they way their parents did, but they can try their hand at creative disciplines.
It is the age of design, the age of creativity.
Or as a group of young northern Europeans say, we are living in The Freedom of Creation!
Even in Africa, in Mali, they have a great Freedom of Creation. The instruments are different. The result is aesthetically interesting in both cases.
Paraphrasing Hans Hollein in 1997 I said "Everything is design." Was I wrong?
I can’t say now, but I will share a second piece of news with you. I can’t tell whether it's good or bad news.
Since 2009 the number of people living in urban areas has reached and will soon exceed the number of people living in the countryside, in small towns and in villages.
Many of these people work in the service sector. In societies with advanced economies people spend most of their time - decisive time, the time when we’re awake! – in offices.
Offices that are increasingly beautiful and comfortable, rather like havens, a bit like living rooms, a bit like amusement parks and a bit like kitchens. But where they actually work as self-slaves.
Knowledge workers or Slaves with little knowledge?
Do you have friends on Facebook? Friends not seen for 10 years?
Who will you go and have coffee with in half an hour?
The real social network is now the office. In fact the coffee break.
(Or tea break!)
Here we meet, without hierarchies, we exchange information, complaints, gossip. Love affairs begin in the coffee break and you learn (in secret) that next week the boss is going to be sacked!
‘Camera cafè’ is not only a serial tv.
This is one of the reasons why at this time I work at conceiving offices that are easier to live in, illuminated by daylight. And with areas where people can meet, talk, drink coffee. Maybe an Italian espresso, made using Lavazza machines: small honest appliances (reasonably priced and with an average working life of 15 years!) which I invite you to experience if you come to Milan, in Via Tortona 32, at the next Salone.
One of the computer gurus says that in this century there will only be two things that count: the Network and Objects.
Does that sound like good news? I can’t say.
I know that, as my friend Pierre Rouzet says, who’s a communication official from the Municipality of Nimes:
'To exist is a miracle, but to live is difficult. Our thinking, our
intelligence should bring us greater serenity, peace, harmony. There are
so many unnecessary disruptions! Where are the real pleasures? Those
of the body, of the senses, seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, touching, and
those of the mind: learning, loving and being loved, exchanging, giving,
receiving, creating. What do your need for that? A roof, fuel, water,
Some food, a refrigerator, a few clothes, soap, aspirin, books, a pencil, paper, a telephone, a radio, a moped. A little work and a good handful of cash is enough for that. The rest could be better distributed on our planet. No need for much to be happy.”
What are we to make of 10,000, 000,000,000 products that are made every year?
Considering that there are about 6.5 billion of us, that means about 1550 each. It means that we in the consumer society consume around 4000 items per year, 11 per day, every day: from disposable razors to mobile phones!
What’s the use of being connected with so many people, having a thousand friends on Facebook, and then eating alone, or worse, sleeping alone?
We in the design community have a heavy responsibility.
Many of us feel it’s urgent to think not only about design as sustainable (because it’s human beings that are unsustainable!) but as responsible, profound, where there is at least a bit of proportion, sense, affection, duration and possibly also of narrative, symbolic significance.
and that of a man who will come from London to Istanbul in a little rowing and sailing boat along the rivers, to remind us how precious fresh water is and that it’s a supranational good!
on the River on Tour".
I have no solutions.
Only signs. Suggestions
I greet this wonderful city - that my friend Inci Mutlu, a designer, explained is the place where Europe and Asia kiss (geographically speaking!)
And I greet you all with an overview of projects where I have found the canons of beauty, language or intelligent utility. And with other projects where I think I see something profound, mythical, gentle and perhaps even sacred.
The last image is the raft that we made with my eldest son Luigi, 5 years ago, when we were blocked by the Scirocco on an islet in the Adriatic and he was Friday and I was Robinson Croesus.
It's great to do things with your hands. It's great to do repairs, take care, wash, cook, plant a geranium. You understand more clearly the meaning and value of things.
And with the raft of fortune I will end my small navigation on the great sea of design.