Paola Antonelli: Manifesto #42

I consider design the highest expression of human creativity because it is concise and distilled. I am baffled that the world does not yet understand not only how important, but also how tremendously engrossing and entertaining design is. I want to teach people to observe, enjoy, and have opinions about things, from shoes to buildings to interfaces, and voice them. I want people to be able to tell real design from expensive decorative art you can sit on; I want them to appreciate design the same way they appreciate food or a piece of music, instinctively first and rationally later. I also want people to form their own idea of design beauty and then demand it.

For all my militant, talk I still believe that beauty is very important and should never cost more than ugliness. Now, of course design is also much more if we just change scale for a moment. It is necessary to think of design not only in terms of “things”, but also in terms of theory and philosophy. Design supports progress and enables people to really use scientific and technological innovations. Even at its most lyrical, design is intrinsically constructive, hopeful, helpful and practical. It can do more than please consumers and businesses; it can influence policy and research and translate technological revolutions into human format, while providing useful feedback from the field about human needs to scientists and politicians. Design can act as a bridge between the abstraction of strategy and the complex details of the real world. Designers are advocating roles that are more and more integral to the evolution of society. Among those in charge of shaping the future of the world, they are the most benign, responsible and visionary.

Originally published in ICON magazine
Issue 404 | 2007

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