Design and optimism

In the introduction to the Design conference Changing the Change (Torino 10th, 11th, 12th July 2008) the designer Ezio Manzini talked about new design knowledge, starting with an idea that seems to be clear in many designers: design has a close relation with optimism. Manzini says

Being a designer means being an optimist: given the problems, all the problems even the most difficult, all we can do is to presume there is a possibility of solving them, not because we cannot see the difficulties (designers must also be realists), but because we have no alternative. To be designers we must make proposals, and we cannot but base these on such opportunities as we come across.

This idea – that I have clearly seen in the words of Gui Bonsiepe (see Bonsiepe y el rol del diseñador), Philippe Stark (see Pilippe Stark y el ser diferente) and Bruno Latour when he says that “the spread of the word ‘design’ doesn’t come at a time when there is less to do; it comes at a time when there is more to do” (see Hacia una filosofía del diseño) – could be the rationale behind the creation of new design schools in moments of reconstruction and hope.

I have in mind at least two milestones (thinking that there are more examples): the creation of the hfg ulm in 1953, after World War II, and the creation of the design careers in the FADU – UBA in 1985, after Argentina’s come back to democracy in 1983.

I wonder what will come after the world crisis we are facing today.