A future without stuff
I read an excellent magazine article by Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum writing in the Sunday Times Style magazine, that got me thinking. I have mentioned in other posts the inexorable drift away from the real and the physical, but have not really thought about the impact on design and the permanence and the human memories & emotions invested in everyday objects. The article names smart phones as the casual ruthless exterminator of, ‘…scores, if not hundreds, of objects that would, until recently, have defined most aspects of everyday life’. I will broaden my rant, I mean exposition(!), to include tablets and ‘phablets’, i.e. Smart Devices.
The list of the potential victims of Smart Devices is sobering and quite depressing IMHO:
– Real hard-wired phones and phone boxes
– Cameras (and film and photo albums)
– Alarm clocks
– Books (fiction and non-fiction), bookshelves, libraries, all print media?
– Games consoles and physical board games
– Hifi systems, Walkmans, tape recorders, DVD players, projectors…in fact almost every new C20th media and media player, whether or not it was loved and valued at the time. That said, vinyl is clinging on – and growing – and there is a nostalgia for mix tapes , although no demand yet for a return of the pesky things!
– Torches, heart-rate monitors, pedometers, magnifying glasses, mirrors (compacts), maps, compasses etc. etc.
Hello, hello, the future calling
As well as the convenience of having a whole world of power, technology and information in your pocket, I guess that I don’t miss FAX machines, dial-up modems, floppy disks, scratched or warped vinyl, libraries closed on Wednesday, out of stock DVDs & video cassettes etc…
As an interesting aside, the millenials may not have used a phone with a rotary dial, but we all still say ‘dialling a number’, the UK emergency number of ‘999’ was designed to slow down the caller and stop the dial jamming (otherwise ‘000’ or ‘111’ would have been much quicker), and the universal icon for a telephone still looks like a telephone!
The fight back has started!
On a more positive note, there are some areas that the author believes will continue to be needed, in some form or other, in the longer-term as design icons, useful artefacts and as bastions against the forces of the throw-away, the upgradable, utilitarian and uniform.
That’s it, a small list, but I’m sure you can add more?
So what is left to pass on to future generations, to ‘have and to hold’? Will it be said that during our watch in the C21st we witnessed the beginning of the end of things? Will the concept of emotional attachment to a book, a hand-me-down watch, an inherited, much-loved and battered family heirloom, be a lost human trait, as mysterious and inexplicable as human sacrifices, smoking, and no TV on a Sunday!?
(c) 2015 Antony Lawrence CBA Ltd.