Thursday, September 17, 2009

Are Products Inherently Capitalist?

It's a question that has been posed in many design studios I have been in, with varying responses, one most interestingly from an industrial designer friend of mine from the former Yugoslavia who argues strongly in favour. It was brought up again in my mind thanks to this quote in The Grauniad, from this article:
"we agreed that most of us have an ambivalent response to capitalism, and that even left-leaning liberals like iPods and jeans and all the things it provides." - Lucy Prebble, director of the play Enron

For me, its a naive simplification to say that it is capitalism itself that provides things like iPods and jeans - is it so hard to imagine these products existing in a world where capitalism is not the overriding concern? Surely the purpose of capitalism is to generate profit, the products are simply a by-product of this, their design, in the case of jeans, largely driven by function (originally), and in the case of iPods, by interaction.

It is disappointing to see well crafted products taking a hit from anti-capitalists as if they are the enemy. I guess its a symptom of the general lack of critical thinking that surrounds the capitalist/socialist debate. Surely we can have well designed products under either political/economic climate.

No comments: