Design Worlds Part 2: An Introduction to Design Worlds

As we humans come from our one, yet separate worlds invisibly but tangibly bordered by respective histories, cultures and aesthetic notions – when we speak of Design, a byproduct of human activities set within such paradigms – as such, there exists also such diverse worlds within.

Welcome to a brief introduction a few of the many, many, ‘Design Worlds’ that exist.


Design World #1: Venus 

In this world, Design is not a concept that is well understood – as long as it is affordable and it works, there will be a market for it.

The majority of population is the product of an education system that teaches how to pass examinations to pass examinations, a culture that emphasises on putting away money safely in banks, and not to waste. Products are relatively cheap, they get the work done for some time – but are certainly not made to be sculptures.

Here, they say: “What is the point of sculptures, anyway?”

People are generally chilled and easy-going, museums and art culture barely exist here, avoided at all costs when the occasion to go arises, taxes are at relatively low levels, the welfare system is lacking but hopefully progressing, the savvy learn to rely on private institutions to take care of contingencies while ensuring they work hard enough to be able to retire early as possible, afford healthcare and without relying on the state, to see through old-age.

In this world, the concept of Design is seen as unnecessary, hence a wealth-indicator and has little correlation to basic needs or life.


Design World #2: Uranus

In this world, it must appeal to the senses – it cannot be something that merely ‘works’.

Often, finishes are flawless, colour choices are intense and tend to make a statement by itself. Overall, it must make aesthetic sense, on its own, it must hold a dialogue with its surroundings. It is often the elegant solution of an astute observation and made in a specifically chosen material, in a particular way, with a specific reason and for a purpose that does not even cross the minds of many.

Prices can be exorbitant – but here, beauty is expected, and imperative.

People tend to be strong-headed here, sensitive and aware, they think beyond thinking, museums are pervasive, people breathe history and art, taxes are high and some are required to pay advance taxes on income that has not yet been earned. The system suffocates those they can, and pushed to the extreme to survive, in a vicious cycle, the people comply resignedly or evade the system as much as they can to protect individual interests and needs, creating in turn a system that clamps down even more aggressively.

Here, the concept of Design is implicit and is part and parcel of daily life. Luxury is a totally different ball game.


Design World #3: Pluto

In this world, it has to surpass function and beauty – preferably, it should have sculptural potential, be produced responsibly, and see a generation or two.

Colour choices lean towards the soothing, solid but gentle. Here, Design contemplates the future – a memory to be handed down generations, something incomplete because the element of time is factored as a raw material. ‘Shiny and new’ is less valuable than ‘old but gold’. The user is in charge of its finishing touches, and while it acquires that coveted patina of time – those fine abrasions, that inevitable duel with the elements – it would have also earned itself a place and a part of its owners’ life.

Going beyond basic usability, it would serve as an artpiece when not in use, pleasing to the eye while satiating the subconscious.

People are civil here, agreeable, though not necessarily warm. Taxes are up in the air, but the people do reap the benefits of and hence have confidence in the system, acting collectively responsibly. The cost of living and production are consequently also high but society is calm with the peace of mind that the system fairly takes care of its people, and willingly contribute for the good of the collective – there is no need for evasion of taxes.

Society here is at a totally different stage of comfort and development, to those who are aware, Design goes beyond satiating those primal functional needs into the realm of comfort fine-tuned to almost microscopic considerations.


A Necessary Over-Simplication

In our fluid, extremely connected world of today, many of us are faced with an abundant, extremely rich diversity of options (be it products, information, experiences, possibilities…) which we are already immune to – but do not necessarily understand. Some simplification helps to reduce the din of background noise and lend some clarity, to the thinking process.

As a Designer, the discovery of these Design Worlds was absolutely crucial – and resulted in much more informed decision-making within an industry over-flowing with options, no matter what was being sourced for.

Consider the above simplistic description of Design Worlds, and the implications their respectively different characteristics will have on the resulting (Design) products they produce. One would start understanding perhaps – that:

Those final ‘judgements’ based on the enticingly few (or many) digits stamped on price-tags may not quite be the best way to make the absolute perfect decision!


Coming soon > Design Worlds Part 3: The Implication of Design Worlds

The writer is an Interior Designer who has lived in multiple dimensions and now seeks to bridge the Design gap between Worlds.