Institute of Design Research Vienna: New Design Manifesto

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Design urgently needs alternative modes of action and a new understanding of its role, in order to have a positive effect on the future. Social philosopher Frithjof Bergmann’s New Work concept represents a model for a new way of living. One third of our available work capacity is spent on gainful employment, one third in pursuit of self-provisioning of (high tech) in-house production, and one third doing what we really, really want to do. New Design is based on a new concept of work. It doesn’t ask what will sell, but what we need. The logic of the market is complemented by the logic of the commons and the common good.

New Design helps to implement the visionary idea of New Work. We can decide whether we wish to simply purchase finished goods or whether we want to make them ourselves. We can produce everyday items together or we can assist in organization. There is an academic major for design, but the reality is that everyone who creates something is a designer. However, because designers have learned how to deal with complex questions and how to bring together knowledge from various fields, they are particularly astute problem-solvers in a group. Such groups don’t always design things, but they may have new ideas for our daily lives with one another and consider how we can participate politically in shaping our society. We call this comprehensive or expanded design. Culture is diverse like never before, because people have more time to be creative.

New Design takes a close look at what science and industry are making. It uses this information to make products, whose blueprints are available to everyone via computers. And of course we explain how we have produced these things. If someone has a good idea, it will be shared over the Internet, improved by others, and shared again. This process leads to many awesome new solutions. This working method is called Open Source. “Open” means that everyone can participate and benefit. When we work together on something, we are more successful than when we work against each other. Thus, our developments advance more rapidly than those of large firms following a profit model .

We live in a way that the gap between poor and rich can be bridged. And working together is more fun. We live so that we don’t inflict harm on nature, for it is our most important shared treasure. New Design knows how much raw material and how much energy is needed to produce goods. The only things that are made are those that can meet our needs in a clever way. The necessary materials are fed into a cycle where there is no longer any waste. Everything is reused, just as we can observe in nature. Poison no longer makes its way into our clothing, our toys, or into our water bottles, but occurs only in nature—e.g., in poisonous snakes or in lilies of the valley. In general, we have learned from nature and have succeeded in realizing wondrous and manifold things using energy from the sun or wind.

Originally published June 2017, Vienna
Martina Fineder, Harald Gründl, Ulrike Haele, Viktoria Heinrich

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