Li Edelkoort: Soul in Design
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Li Edelkoort: Soul in Design

Li Edelkoort: Soul in Design

Design is a young discipline. A process engineered at the beginning of the industrial age that first and foremost developed function and derived beauty from it. Up until today, function is the trademark of industrial and serial design, reluctantly giving in to the emotional and the ephemeral. But man started to tire of function alone and evolved to decor, surface effects and inlay techniques, blending industry, art and design; a movement which is making a revival at this current time. Then came a moment of great innovation, aerodynamic design and streamlined form. What followed was a time of space-age shapes and science-fiction volumes: our fascination with form for form’s sake was born. As time passed, shape changed shape, and decor followed decor as Wallpaper reintroduced wallpaper.

Function became remote and voice-controlled and morphed into virtuality, giving function an ungraspable quality. Thus arrived matter and the development of our fingertips as important consumer tools. Material development became a major focus of the art and design worlds, the concept of second skin was born, forecasting a future of genetic engineering and human cloning. The more virtual life became, the more tactile we wished to become. Matter called for colour to make up its mind and express its mood, ultimately making colour the overruling reason to select an outstanding work of design.

When design had acquired a sense of function, decor, shape, matter and colour, the insatiable, and by now global, market requested more. It needed a code, or a name, or a logo, or all of those, so it invented and perfected the brand: a passport to international shopping pleasure. With this last step, the world could sit back, relax and contemplate a century of learning, culminating in a completed and perfected design process…

However, the demand for design had been explosive over the last decade, stretching our imaginations thin, and had engendered an insatiable appetite for new experiences which created a world full of stuff; a globe drowning in design, a situation ready to explode. Today, we experience a need for reflection and we feel a need to rethink the (non)sense of design.

To answer the growing global resistance to constant renewal and limitless expansion, humanity and integrity are needed for the years to come. It is time to empower goods with a new dimension; their own character, an invisible energy locked into the design process.

I believe that we will be able to make the object (concept or service) come alive to be our partner, pet or friend, and to relate to us on a direct and day-to-day level. Only when design is empowered with emotion will we be able to create a new generation of things that will promote and sell themselves; they will have acquired an aura able to seduce even the most hardened consumers on their own terms. Only then will design have acquired soul. More at Hiatus.