Design for Humanity
Daniel Eckler

Nicely designed article. I make an assumption why you might have chosen the title ‘The Future of Design is Emotional’ (re: last respondent’s comment). The word ‘Future’ signifies precedent, pulling in the reader. Its opposite would perhaps not work, however your literature review, covering the 50s, illustrates design has its antecedents in emotional packaging.

What was poignant about the 50s was that post-war there was a new vibrancy in commerce and design ethos e.g.Chrysler car design and otherwise. Notwithstanding the US looking to a new consumer culture to boost profits and having to cope with individualism, this was the era when manufactures hired advertising firms who employed Motivational Research, Depth Probers and Psychoanalysts.

These were the ad men (nearly all men). Mad Men who framed commodities emotionally, rather than for their pragmatic use. Thereon, politicians, PR and many businesses would adopt emotionally-loaded strategies to sell anything irrespective of the design that could have been Bauhausian in its own right.

US elections have been huge beneficiaries of this approach, captured so well in Drew Westen’s The Political Brain.

Of course emotionally charged approaches to sell goods didn’t start then. An important figure in this regard was Edward Bernays, whom in the 1920s charged with boosting sales of cigarettes to women transformed slender designed cigarettes that were said to resemble a man’s genitalia into a symbol of freedom. [1-minute article here]

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