We asked curators of leading twentieth-century and contemporary design collections to discuss one object that they feel is particularly noteworthy. Here is a gallery of their choices.
In market terms, we are either the consumers or the products. What if there were another way?
DESIGN IS SHAPING THE WAY we engage with the world that surrounds us, the way we work, consume, and communicate. It specifically assumes a crucial role against the backdrop of technological and social change.
A true revolution is expected from 3-D printers such as the Ultimaker, one of the first open-source printers for home use. The once expensive 3-D printing technology was originally developed for rapid prototyping, but it has the potential to enable everyone to share their designs via open-source digital data and create tailor-made products “on demand.” Various small objects, tools, even prostheses or models of human organs can be created with the Ultimaker. To produce larger things—such as a bridge, a house, or a haute couture dress—still requires broader and more specialized knowledge, but once designs are accessible to everyone online and open workshops and fab labs have become commonplace, everyone will be able to produce (almost) everything themselves.
Traditional structures of human work and labor are changing as they are increasingly being outsourced to machines, as with the advent of 3-D printing. Data is mined, information is accumulated, shared, and reused. We are either the consumers or the products— that is, if we think along the lines of the centralized for-profit market. What if there were another way?
With the notion of the “commons” as promoted by Silke Helfrich, the question shifts from what can be sold and bought to what do we need to live? If we’d assume a different perspective that is based on decentralization and collaboration, information would be made freely accessible and products generated by common knowledge.
Curator, Digital Culture and Design Collection
Museum of Applied Arts (MAK),