Updated: Jan 19
Blue for boys, pink for girls. Toy cars for boys, dolls for girls. Shorts for boys, dresses for girls.
Right from the toys designed for children, there were differentiations made between both genders. These apprehensions weren't just automatically installed in our minds; they were imbibed in us from the very beginning. One generation to another passes down these lessons, and no one seems to have questioned it as it was termed “a natural instinct.” It might sound very insignificant at the moment, but most people don't see the impact of such small details that influence a growing individual’s life.
Our constructed environments have administered a specific hierarchy, which isn’t amiable to all, especially for children. Most of the toys today are designed initially just to keep kids occupied and are very goal-oriented. They are manufactured to serve a single purpose; hence, we see most kids getting bored quickly and breaking it open to find something new and different.
The world’s greatest minds existed and grew due to curiosity, which kids need to foster today. All that our society has done from the start was curb it. We are constantly made to fall into this vicious cycle from aimlessly falling prey to complaints to being the ones who complain.
The question is, how can we expect an individual to grow in an environment where only words, not actions, allow them to do so? How do we anticipate a child's brain to develop in a pre-designed arena where they’re repeatedly being told about what and how to think without being given a chance to create their own views of society?
What do you think constitutes a good design?
Before addressing that, it is essential to understand what any innovation or design is expected to do and pay heed to what is already being done.
“Truly creative work is not only novel; it is also appropriate,” claims American academic Teresa Amabile. Anything created is susceptible to personal bias on societal lines. Most of our judgments are based on factors like social conventions and individual tastes or likings. So much that we often seem to forget most of these perceptions aren’t likely to be true. Ultimately, these notions are influential to the discriminatory judgments we make. Thus it is vital to keep in mind that appearances may be deceptive before we make impressions.
Just as contemporary artist Picasso dictates, “good taste is the enemy of creativeness.” Predispositions of personal tastes and beliefs hinder the development of critical design elements that aren’t inclusive in current norms, thereby raising awareness of the unfamiliar necessities, which are often colluded by the judgements we make.
Our decisions and discriminations must only be made based on actual factual knowledge and not on generally perceived comments- as knowledge about any artifact could change the way we look and feel about it.
It cannot be expected of everyone to look at a design the way we do. For example, only certain people of society may understand aesthetics in the way we want to portray it, and usually, these people are outnumbered by the rest. So anything that is designed should also appeal to the common, larger proportionate of society. Being a tool of activism, any object’s design should provide for universal needs rather than the personal likings of a few.
There’s an assumption in design that “easy” is excellent. Innovation did not really have any set of rules; we created the rules. Similarly, changing these notions is in our hands too. It should not be expected to make things easier for us but rather we should aim at making things more effectful.
We were never told that the walls need to be straight or that the floor needs to be flat. We designed it that way in order to make things easier. Instead, what if we become more aware and pay more attention to our surroundings. Yes, any object’s design should indeed be user-friendly, but that doesn’t signify making the user handicapped, down the line.
In the futuristic and fast-moving world where everything is expected to happen in 'one click,’ we need to take a step back to realize that we are currently creating a system that either turns a blind eye or knowingly engages in practices that are ultimately going to fail us both economically and socially someday.
A good design is one that will not only serve its purpose but will also instigate our minds to think differently from the so-called communal standards that we are a part of.