online: 30 march 2006
modified: 30 march 2006

30 march 2006 winds of change

Parliament Hill. Sun and rain over the city... strong wind up here, strong enough to rock me as i sit loosely anchored by gravity and friction to a wooden seat and backrest... The city towers are in cloud-shadow while those at Canary Wharf, a mile or 1.5 km further away from them, are in sunlight... a rain storm conceals the hills beyond... two geese fly close together in a wide circle round Parliament Hill and disappear over the trees towards the Hampstead ponds...

Indoor cafe by the door, watching people go by and listening to a loud mixture of speech, recorded music, and the sounds of clattering plates and the coffee machine - all reflected from the hard surfaces of this typical modern interior bereft of sound absorbents... the designer has imported a palm tree and some modern paintings but seems forgetful of ambient sound...

I imagine a world in which sound, temperature, ventilation, and every other aspect of our artificial environment, is as perfectly adapted to the people it affects - as are our body parts to each other, or one tree to another... i could list many more of such neglects of our environments (and thus of ourselves) but this is enough for the moment...

The owner occasionally comes to the door to look out... when i came to sit here i felt a cold draught and i asked if he could close the door (which was held open by a wedge). He removed the wedge and explained that it had been too warm inside because of the heating (he waved towards the central heating convectors which when i felt them were cold!)... and as he said this i realised that, like all of us, designers or designed-for, he is helpless to break out of a cultural impasse in which we live and tolerate and occasionally adapt and modify with door wedges or any other improvisations or fashionable but ineffective precedents...

To overcome all this has been my lifelong wish or project and today i feel closer to attempting it than i ever was.

As i went out i saw an improvised notice:

please push the door shut!


As I returned by train and bus i realised that even this little example of neglected miss-matches of environment to ourselves is sufficient to provoke thoughts of a far better world, 'seriously adapted to everyone' as i put it...

So can this little note be the start to a successor to Design Methods, no longer limited by the roles of professional designers, but now to enable everyone to take part in the great work of remaking our circumstances and our lives beyond the limits of our paid selves, as specialists?

Yes... yes!

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