Skip to content

Design is Dead (?)

In my opinion, “design” in the world of products like the Shamwow or the Shakeweight may be debatably dead. However, the word that appears to have come to replace it, “innovation”, looks to be the industry norm.

The future of towel innovation.

After reading the piece in Seventy-Nine Short Essays on Design, “Innovation is the New Black”, I’ve been starting to wonder whether the apparent shrinking of beneficial, domestically-available products is due to the trending overuse of the word “innovation”.

The (hyper-biased) final paper I’m working on is about the world of product design falling into a grey world of redesigns (or, “innovations”) featuring marginally useful goods nobody would ever use regularly. Could it be because of the popularization of the word itself, serving to replace the more established word “design”? After all, innovation generally insinuates that there’s a current product or service that, through metamorphosis and upheaval, becomes an upgraded version of what it once was, although it conceptually functions the same. Design, on the other hand, suggests a more liberal approach to creating from scratch something that never previously existed.

My paper primarily is concerned with answering why the inventive field has become deluded in this way. After major strides in advancing technologies like the personal computer, the internet, or the shrinking of the PC into a smartphone – all  within the past century – have comparatively left many in a state of bewilderment as to why businesses like Sharper Image and Skymall magazine are focused on creating products of novelty, rather than towards the advancement of civilization.

Do we need these types of (what I think are) profit motive-driven failures? Shouldn’t there be a way to circumvent this process of innovation, and allow designers to design non-shitty consumer products?

God, I hope so.