Do We Still Need Designer Fantasies? Danielle Thom, δημοσίευση στο ArtReview [23/12/2022]Marilena Pateraki
With the world in a renewed sense of crisis, it was harder for design to indulge in escapism in 2022
Design, as a discipline, tends to be orderly, intentional and thoughtful. 2022, as a year, was none of those things. How, then, to consider design as it unfolded in this most chaotic of times? Among the usual aesthetic developments and new trends, there has been a tension between opulence and cynicism – a desire for glamour, a backlash to COVID-imposed restraint, tempered by the grit of economic and political realism. For every gesture towards optimism, lightness and luxury, there has been one of grim pragmatism bordering, at times, on despair.
Design doesn’t exist in a vacuum – unless, of course, it’s a Dyson product. Unveiled in March was the Dyson Zone, a bizarre headphone/face-mask hybrid which makes the wearer look like the well-ventilated offspring of Steve Zissou and Bane. It is a glossy, high-value piece of precision engineering that purports to meet a demand in the aftermath of a global pandemic, but which will be beyond the reach of most consumers. Given the economic situation in much of the western world, in which the cost of living continues to rise as real-terms wages remain depressed, it’s no surprise that the design projects met with the harshest criticism were those which failed to ‘read the room’. Foremost among these was the redevelopment of London’s Battersea Power Station, once a genuinely iconic piece of national infrastructure, which was reopened this year as a ‘mixed use’ development incorporating new apartment blocks by Frank Gehry and Foster + Partners. Bloated with luxury shops and other monetisation opportunities, and with only 9 per cent of the new housing stock classed as ‘affordable’, the revamped Battersea was viewed as a rich person’s folly, disconnected from the very real needs of its urban environment.
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