DESIGN FOR THE REAL WORLD: Human Ecology and Social Change by Victor Papanek

DESIGN FOR THE REAL WORLD: Human Ecology and Social Change

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Taking up Buckminster Fuller's epigram, ""You have to make up your mind either to make sense or to make money,"" Papanek comes down firmly on the side of sense, which for him involves objects of use consonant with the social conditions of human life rather than standardized objects designed to look flashy in the showroom and fill a gap in the product-price range. Part of the critique is merely familiar complaints about planned obsolescence, lethal auto design, phony pricing, and fatuous products, redeemed in some measure by Papanek's sense of the absurd and his positive conceptions of technological advance: instead of blaming technology as the source of all evils, he is genuinely interested in what could be done. With little energy available to the inhabitants of the underdeveloped regions, Papanek sees an immediate need for cheap housing, cheap farm implements, cheap communication, etc. He himself has designed a 9¢ paraffin-fueled radio, a $9 television, and a $150 off-the-road vehicle, and he advocates cell-like domes constructed of native materials for purposes of housing. But despite his pleas for understanding social and economic needs, he fails to consider those items which can only be built by cooperative labor, such as fuel sources and irrigation systems. Like the introduction by Fuller, Papanek's sparks fail to produce a core theory, but the crackle of ideas and criticisms of designers give undoubted substance to the book.

Pub Date: Jan. 18th, 1971
ISBN: 0897331532
Publisher: Pantheon