kimberley crofts

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an information and communication designer living in London

Trying to design the future

J.Christopher Jones “Trying to Design the Future.” Design, 225 (September 1967), p. 35ff.

What do we see if we take a bird’s eye view of our efforts, as engineers, architects, planners and industrial designers, to influence the recent course of human evolution ?… Taking as examples such things as cars, trains, electric fires, houses, dishwashers and the like, we see a series of products, services and buildings that are well suited to their markets but ill suited to the conditions brought about by their use. There seem to be plenty of designs that please their sponsors and users but create seemingly insoluble problems for everyone else. Here are some examples of these unforeseen ill effects of designing:

  1. commercially successful cars causing congestion, delays and a
  2. growing number of deaths and injuries;
  3. the unfortunate need to build multi-storey car parks to accommodate cars that are not being used, at a storage cost that can equal or exceed the depreciation cost of the cars;
  4. electric heaters causing power cuts if used simultaneously;
  5. high speed motorways attracting more traffic than was expected and causing multiple crashes, particularly in fog;
  6. liner trains unused because of their effect on employment;
  7. transmission towers despoiling landscape;
  8. new housing estates inhibiting social contacts and creating loneliness;
  9. 9 the production of domestic appliances which are too numerous to fit into many existing kitchens;
  10. dishwashers too noisy to use in open plan houses;
  11. open plan houses in which privacy is impossible.

The list could be extended.

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