Reflection – Marcel Gleeson S3379259

Advocacy Activism Agency. Three words I had certainly never come into contact within the context of industrial design. I chose this studies class because it was the one I felt I knew the least about. Whether that was a wise decision or not, I feel like I have emerged from this course with quite a lot to show. This course made me better understand how design can influence behaviors, and it’s duty to guide societies to a better future. Weather that future is one of sustainability, abundance, or a more leisurely existence it’s about making a change. Designers must conceptualize a better or different way and then actively design to that end.

At the beginning of this course I joined with a fairly skeptical view of activism. I had relatively stereotypical view it, as something for a certain type of person, not me. To some degree now, I still hold to that. However I’ve opened up to a model of activism through design which is a much more compelling idea to me. I have realized the importance of every everyone being an activist, how they express those acts and ideas of change however, is up-to them. In the medium of industrial design the media is objects, and their form, their function. Allowing and disallowing certain behaviors, encouraging and rewarding others. We need people guiding societies and cultures to a better future.

I’ve been made aware of the power of discourse through Industrial Design. To my dismay, I found with this power Industrial Design has been heading down a dangerous path. Being responsible for a lot of waste and fueling a society of unsustainable consumption. Potentially being considered one of the most dangerous professions. This thought has made me realize that we must shift the profession from one that exists to stimulate the economy, to one that genuinely improves life and secures a more sustainable future. This course has made me consider the importance of designing and producing in a considered and ethical way. Being aware of environmental and cultural impact. Looking at the entire picture, story, journey of a product.

During this course I have gathered a toolbox for both creating and thinking about change. In the beginning, I had never used Twitter. It was a challenge, adding another thing into my day to day life and I must say it didn’t completely integrate. However I did experience the power and potential of reaching a large number of people. Mainly in a passive sense, following influential “Tweeters”, but also actively by engaging with the other change students via #ChangeAAA. WordPress, or blogging in general is not something I’ve done too often either. I can now appreciate how easy it is to publish your views and ideas more rapidly, and also in far more depth than twitter. Actor network theory was an interesting experience. I can’t say I’m an expert, but it has certainly got me thinking about the relationships between objects, environments and people. The actor network is a means of deconstructing an object conceptually, in an effort to realize possible points of discourse. I’d like to learn more about this, it still appears daunting and infinitely complex to me at this point.

During the projects carried out this semester I gained skills in thinking about more conceptual ideas in a group environment. At the beginning it was quite difficult to communicate such obscurity and broad ideology, however after sometime it all began to get easier. I think this came from developing a certain vocabulary and way of explaining things that enabled that communication. In these projects I learned more specifically about packaging. In the first project we looked at excluding superfluous packaging from our lives. This was extremely difficult, I was not able to do it completely. I found that this was because there are some packaging designs that are necessary. Furthermore some packaging designs, when looking at them in context via actor network theory, or even the life-cycle of the object, yield more sustainable benefits than the seemingly detrimental packaging itself. This just reinforced the idea of considering an entire system, or cycle of a product.

Doing this course has reinforced the idea that to be an Industrial Designer you need to malleable enough to take on new information and concepts. You must learn and understand about all the aspects and stakeholders involved in the design. Yet stay fixed on your own ideas of what’s ethical, and the kind of future you want to belong to. Using that knowledge to develop concepts of a better future and instilling them into the design process is imperative for development of cultures. We design the future.

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