Furthering Victor Papanek's legacy: A personal perspective
journal contributionposted on 2021-07-19, 08:49 authored by Cees De-BontCees De-Bont
Design schools around the world often state that they offer instruction on topics such as sustainability, inclusive design, and responsible design. Fifty years ago, design scholar Victor Papanek had already begun teaching industrial designers that they were contributing to consumerism by designing unnecessary gadgets. Papanek urged them to offer more responsible solutions to the real difficulties that people face daily, difficulties that spanned a range of problems from physical challenges to societal ones. His works were not appreciated—at all—by his American industrial designer contemporaries, but still served as powerful inspiration to European design academics whose efforts comprise some of the first PhD work on design. Here I describe Papanek's writing and inspiration, and note how long it took before influential design academics would seek to educate and inspire others based on his work. I have served as dean at three universities where his legacy lives on in teaching and research. I will reflect on some of the recent activities taking place under Papanek's influence at these institutions, and offer a personal perspective of these developments, and some reflections on the progress in light of Papanek's lessons overall.
- Design and Creative Arts