Design in Tough Times

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By way of PSFK we were pointed to Alice Rawsthorn‘s part-history lesson, part-advice for designers who are facing this economic mess we’ve suddenly all found ourselves in. While she believes things aren’t going to be entirely pleasant, she’s optimistic in seeing that the profession has historically been able to adapt on the quick and not just survive itself, but also wind up helping people in the throes of hard times. Rawsthorn offers up a few bits of historical lessons, briefly touching on what happened with design in the US in the 1930s and in Europe in the 1940s, while also showing off what firms like IDEO and Live|Work are doing or have done to help weather the storm. However, she ends with a gloomy forecast, joining a growing rank of other critics and writers, declaring an end to design-art:

Resilient though some areas of design will be, others have already been hit by recession. One is “design-art.” Half of the lots at Sotheby’s design auction in London last month were unsold, and dealers are nervous about the prospects for next month’s Design Miami fair. But what’s the most exciting role for design? Developing new business concepts and cracking social problems, or making expensive, uncomfortable furniture?