Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Victor Papanek

Fast Company’s article on Building a Sustainable Design Community – Article on Valarie Casey and her challenge to the design world known as the “Kyoto Treaty of Design” got me thinking about my favorite designer; Victor Papanek.

Papanek had a mantra that all designers should contribute to society. As such he spent quite a bit of his career in Africa. He also got the bumper on cars. In the 1950’ies deaths in car crashes were at an all time high. Congress wanted to do something and called a hearing with the car manufactures urging them to put bumpers on cars. But the car manufactures fought back claiming that a bumper that could sustain even 10 mph would make the car so expensive that no one would by cars.

The car manufactures won the debate but as people were coming out of the building after the debate Papanek drove a car into the wall of Congress at 25 mps with a bumper built of two layers of tin cans and came away with an unhurt can and unhurt himself. The story goes that congress went straight back into the building and overturned their decisions.

That, to me illustrates what design is about and that is why Victor Papanek is my favorite designer.

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