Recently I stumbled upon an article, covering a Q&A session with the Eames brothers in 1972 about What is design? I’m not here to try to answer this question myself, but my curiosity was triggered by one of the questions and even more so the, what looks like a simple answer, that followed:
Q: To whom does design address itself: to the greatest number? To the specialist or enlightened amateur? To a privileged social class?
A: Design address itself to the need.
It is interesting because the question pinpoints a lot of conception or misconception depending on the speaker. We have designers such as Philippe Starck that made the democratisation of design his battle horse for several years now. Often in interviews about Kartell, he will say that the innovative spirit behind the company is actually helping him pursue that goal. Following this idea, I would think that for Mr Starck, design is addressed to the greatest number. Then, the question asks, could it be addressed to a specific amount of people, with knowledge or mean, which I believe to be a misconception and I evidently do not agree. Skedio was born to make authentic design accessible, educate about products, brands and designers as well as to promote them. So, in a sense, my first answer would go along with Mr Starck’s idea and I would have said design is for the greatest number. And that is why I found Charles Eames’ answer so enticing, because it is easy to go for the mass. But need is the mother of creativity. It is true in several aspect of life, business endeavours are often born after an entrepreneur didn’t find an answer to a need (Skedio is one!) so why would it be different with design?
Good authentic design is an investment that will stand the test of time. For us, it is a way to answer the need of lowering our ecological foot print (buy less, buy better). It is also a way to create our own little paradise, surrounding ourselves with pieces that answer your need for happiness. It fulfills our need to be who we are; unique. For the creator behind those pieces, they are looking for solutions to those needs.
Let me give you an example: chairs. They are one of the most basic and understandable objects that we use every day to sit. It needs to support you (needing three to four points to link the seat to the floor and prevent falling), be a precise height depending on the use and most importantly, be ergonomically comfortable. There is nothing more basic and yet, how many chairs design exist on the market? Why so many new models? Well, my humble guess is that a chair is not simply a chair, not for you and me and definitely not for the designer.
Kartell put tremendous effort into several of their chairs, La Marie (first transparent chair), Louis Ghost (first transparent chair in one mold), the Masters and the Piuma. To name a few examples representing various ranges of innovation. The Piuma is the first industrially produced injected chair that used a Carbon mixture, which makes it the lightest and thinnest chairs on the market (and beautiful!). Chairs need to be light because we move them constantly and plastic helps to meet this need.
Not convinced yet? Think of Simona, the reinvented knife by Maison Milan. Specifically designed for Lettuce (works well with other vegetables too 😉), but when you think that lettuce should not be cut but torn, this knife makes perfect sense! It “cuts”, but in an organic way, doubles as a pestle for salts, pepper and other spices. You got yourself the perfect tool for the most delicious salad you’ll ever make.
Design addresses itself to the need. A need that the designer sees and wishes to solve or improve. Why not make it durable, functional and beautiful at the same time!
I am what you could call a design aficionado. I crave authentic, original, and timeless designs. A little more than a year ago, my brother Olivier and I decided that we had toshare our passion with the world (yes, the world!) Skedio is a customer-centric organization, focused on providing clients with a unique and tailored experience, as we aspire to make them part of our design family!