Lessons From Designing A Radio

A while ago I did a quick summary of Mike Monteiro’s video, “How Designers Destroyed the World”. As if this truth wasn’t sobering enough, Victor Papanek in his book, Design For The Real World,  shared this advice from the company owner who asked him to design a radio:

Just think what making your radio entails in terms of our workers. In order to get it produced, we’re building a plant in Long Island City. We’re hiring about 600 new men. Workers from many states, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Indiana, are going to be uprooted. They’ll sell their homes and buy new ones here. They’ll form a whole new community of their own. Their kids will be jerked out of school and go to different schools. In their new subdivision supermarkets, drugstores, and services stations will open up, just to fill their needs.

And now, just suppose the radio doesn’t sell. In a year we’ll have to lay them all off. They’ll be stuck for their monthly payments on homes and cars. Stores and service stations will go bankrupt when the money stops rolling in; homes will go into sacrifice sales. Their kids, unless daddy finds a new job, will have to change schools. There will be a lot of heartaches all around and that’s not even thinking of my stockholders.

And all this because you made a design mistake. That’s where your responsibility really lies, and I bet that they never taught you this at school!

I dont have much more to add to this. Sometimes the impact of a designer’s work stretches beyond what is directly visible with the eye.