Ex05: Reflect, critique and document
In this speculative future that I explored, extreme globalization leading up to the designation of permanent and mobile zones in cities and eventually the formation of a new culture and nation, came about not because of a practice designers intentionally design for, but due to the transition of economical needs and ultimately a progression of human values on a global scale. Designers before this future, however, play a huge role in creating spaces for such mobilization to happen. The sharing of ideas among designers bring about the homogenization of taste and aesthetics, and when external factors such as class come into play, a regime of a “desired lifestyle” is created. As this desired lifestyle circulates across societies as well as industries, there will be more convergence and a slow disintegration of locality. By designing artefacts that are able to be easily transported, and environments that facilitate collaboration and encourage adaptability, designers in the past (before this future) are responsible for affirming the trajectory that the global culture is moving towards and further propagating it. Designers are also crucial in creating pivots for people to express themselves —they are responsible for inspiring the society to inspect and reflect on the positive and negative consequences of such emerging societal trends.
However within this future, designers can both oppose and augment the story at the same time. With this emergence of a new dominant culture and nation that is spread across the world, geography-free and taking roots in so many existing cultures, there is obviously a sense of inclusion. But when delving deeper into the demographics of people who naturalize into mobile zones, and the systems governing the migration patterns of Ab Ovo citizens, there is also immediately exclusion. Class disparity is highlighted, identity crisis becomes a social issue, and resource distribution needs monitoring and restructuring. It is up to the designer’s individual decision whether to design a better system for this new nation in order to solve inevitable social and economical issues, or to inspire reflection and reconfiguration, and ultimately alternative ways that such a new culture can exist — perhaps at the cost of proposing the disintegration of the nation, since these alternative accommodations may not be in a form of a new geography-free country. In a way, designers of this future have to be highly aware of the political and economic scene of the world and the sustainability of this new country, in order to understand the constant cultural and value shifts in people and thus design specifically for the growth of the society.
Although the idea that there can be a configuration of cross-hatched “zones” with different lifestyle, culture and jurisdiction within one city can be interesting, I believe that the more official separation and specialization there is among people, the less trust and understanding there would be in this world. I believe in the value of collaboration while protecting our own local culture, the freedom to engage in practices as part of a social and financial class without discrimination, and the beauty of cultural exchange that is not taken for granted. In regards to globalization, the desirable results and the consequences are not neccessarily so black and white — there will always be two sides. Pushing anything to the extreme, however, will always result in a rebounce and become unhealthy. Designers of the present are responsible for harnessing fundamental human values and be always alert for signs for the “extreme”. We are also to be careful of the language we use to frame situations and communicate purposes in our design practices, since the pivots designers create will naturally become gauges people use to view the world. It is perhaps easier than we think to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. In any event, growth always comes from changes, movements and adaption; it is the inevitable result that allows our society to evolve. We as designers, though, are to monitor the pace of growth, create new spaces where such growth happens, and defining the growth with meaning and significance.