So Phillipe Starck said. Design is dead. Long live design.
I'm not totally on board with this. Pointless and unnecessary design will always live on, as long as we are human, we will always love beauty and pride, it was true in Homer's (of the Iliad...) day, and true in ours. Positional goods (goods valued mostly by desirability, e.g. LV, B&O, Ferrari) will always continue to attract massive demand.
There will be a massive shift in design, buoyed by enforced frugality (recession), voluntary simplicity and a socially and environmentally aware generation.
Design will evolve and shift to an utilitarian focus. The winners will design the way we eat, live, sleep, think and love. Designers will direct the way we spend our money and time and only focus on the necessary.
Here are six unconventional counter-intuitive designs (and a sign of things to come):
Kiva.org - Micro financing for third world countries. Designed as a portal to lend small amounts of money (I'm talking $100 to fund a Tanzanian store for 10 months) to businesses in developing countries. This is sociopreneurial design at it's prime, and it isn't charity.
One Laptop Per Child - Designing a laptop under $100. This is technological, business and charitable design at the same time. All in a world where people are looking for faster computing, people are out there making sure our neighbours don't get left behind.
Grameen Bank - A micro financing bank for poverty stricken communities based on trust. No contracts, no collateral. Sounds like no one pays right? Wrong. They are profitable and the socialpreneur won a Nobel prize for it.
iPod - Apple brought music back to the people. Once a positional good, now a commodity. You can get to music in three clicks, brilliant. It's marked a gigantic shift in music design. For years audio quality was like wine tasting, snobbery was rife. Now it's just about the music.
Youtube - What Apple did for music, Youtube did for T.V. This is why HD TV, High End audio will become even more cut throat niche markets in the next decade. Youtube and Apple showed the masses that bigger, louder, faster isn't better, the quality is in the content.
Nintendo - When everyone wanted more 'awesome graphics' and '12.5 surround sound,' Nintendo pissed it's shareholder's off in 2006 by saying that people want fun. No, I'm not kidding, Before the Wii's launch Nintendo's stock price was sitting at the same levels as when the first Nintendo came out in the 90's.
Nintendo got it right. People want fun. The quality is in the content. By the way, Nintendo is the only game console manufacturer making a profit on every console sold. Yep, Sony and Microsoft lose dollars on every playstation or xbox sold.
There I said it. Content is King. The frill and whistles aren't necessary and people are catching on.
In future there will be no more designers. The designers of the future will be the personal coach, the gym trainer, the diet consultant
Flickr cred: nedrichards