IDEAS about good designers might vary from person to person. As for David Grossman, president of the International Council of Design, he thinks a good designer should consider the long-term sustainable development of a design by changing from serving producers to serving consumers.
“In the beginning, designers were serving producers and producers were interested in growing consumption as much as possible on the short term,” said Grossman, who was invited as a special guest to Shenzhen Design Week that kicked off at the Shekou i-Factory on Friday.
He said that people would have to pay a big price for overconsumption that comes in the form of environmental pollution and shortages of resources. “What we feel is that it’s important to make a small change from designers being servants of the producers with the producers deciding what is good for their short-term benefit to the designers serving the end-users to think about the long term,” he said.
Grossman thinks it’s a change that is already happening and a change that professional designers should support. “It’s a little change in words, but it’s a very big change in the way that designers see themselves and the way that the general public sees the designers,” he added.
According to Grossman, there will be 800 million people — equal to the combined population of Europe and North America — entering the consumption design market in China in the next 20 years.
He said that those consumers might need a new type of cultural products as they won’t be satisfied with Western luxury products or with products that are not sustainable. Currently, nobody knows exactly what those new consumers will want and need, which is why he believed it’s so important for global designers to be aware of what is happening in China and be involved in the Chinese design industry.
Grossman said that the design profession is very young as it started with the Industrial Revolution in Europe around 200 years ago. However, the design industry in China is even younger after only developing for around 20 years. “It’s hard to do in 20 years what other people did in 200 years,” he said. “China is making very fast progress, but it still has a little while to go.”
Grossman said the design industry in Shenzhen will have to transform from superficial design to more sophisticated design in a bid to enter the next stage of design development.