Objectified: A Contradiction?

“All these physical objects in our lives; there’s no real critique on them,
very little discussion on how these things really, really affect us.”

 As I heard this sentence being said, it slowly and gradually began to creep up on me: isn’t that a contradictory statement, especially coming from a designer? I was taken aback by it. Isn’t the majority of a designer’s job to critique and discuss how objects affect our lives? I mean, isn’t that basically the purpose of a designer (whichever kind of designer it may be).

However, it dawned on me that I could have interpreted this quote horribly wrong. His use of “our lives” might not have meant exclusively the lives of designers but the masses, people as a whole. Does the average person really sit around and question the process that went behind the creation of the hair band in his/her hair; the coding behind the software on his/her computer; the considerations that went into the shape of the water bottle in his/her hand?

And what about how all of these items affect us? Not just on a day-to-day basis. What about human beings as a whole? Everything was designed: the material objects we all own, see, yearn for, or detest; the governmental, academic, cultural, and moral structures that dictate how we live. The systems that surround us steer us in more ways than just which Apple product we’re going to buy next, or what classes to take next semester. Much like language, which is a system in its own right, these systems dictate how we understand the world around us. Much like language, these designed systems have the ability to both greatly limit us and also enable us to express ourselves.

What is left? An epiphany: I am only 19-years-old, and I still have so much more to learn.


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