Utilitarian.

September 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s such an interesting word.

Jeff, my husband, likes utilitarian design. He appreciates things that have a purpose – or more accurately, had a purpose. An old theatre leg, or elephant bell, or glass lighter.

I appreciate the thought that each item has a story, and should have a purpose. Yet, I also appreciate the concept that good design is actually not something that specifically was created to fill a void, but to put a voice to a piece of the world that many never thought needed one.

For example:

Green Pedestrian Crossing in China Creates Leaves from Footprints trees leaves installation environment China advertising

This is a photo of a street in China. A designer placed a large, leafless tree image on the street, with pads of green ink at the corners. Each pedestrian added leaves to the tree as they walked across the street.

One thought that immediately came to mind – Honestly, how many people want green ink on their feet after doing this?

But also, what a simple idea of expressing a thought. Whether it had a specific purpose beyond creating beauty on a street, it created stories. Stories that people could tell other people what happened on the way to work today. That were suddenly shared, collectively, though the internet to millions of people across the world. Stories that evoked either a political commentary, or disgust, or appreciation, it’s purpose wasn’t strictly utilitarian.

“Design needs to be plugged into natural human behavior. Design dissolving into behavior.” Naoto Fukasawa, via Objectified.

hat tip to thisiscolossal.com for the above image and story.

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