Means and Ends
This presentation is about designed objects, or more specifically “superlative objects” (Barthes, 2009, p.101) - objects of design that somehow achieve an elevated status. The central thesis is that by placing such a high cultural value on the object, the systems and resources behind its realization are largely allowed to be hidden from view, skipped over, taken for granted. This elision gives mainstream design an enormous advantage over alternative approaches, as all the available methods and means - global resources, neo-liberal labor practices, highly sophisticated manufacturing and marketing methods, intricate supply chains and the latest technological advances - can be exploited to achieve the celebrated end. How can more ethical or ecological design processes compete - when only the end product, the superlative object, is valued?