In an effort to remove the critical design from its habitual exhibition context, I have applied the method to a product that has been designed for mass production and consumption.
In order for design to continue to be relevant in constantly changing times, there is a need to explore different design theories and methods and learn to apply them in new contexts.
Critical design is often provocative – aiming to challenge the viewer’s preconceptions and consequently make them open to new perspectives and discussions. In a sense, it is the opposite of mass-produced design.
Taking critical design as a starting point I have designed a vase that is thought-provoking without it being instantly obvious. The intent is to avoid the vase being presented in a category of exclusive products that are out of reach for a broad range of people, and for it to be mass-produced and presented in a commercial context.
All the design choices of the vase, the heavy stone with the delicate glass, are meant to evoke questions about consumption and initiate discussion among the consumers.
The idé was to create a commercial product that you can buy at a store and unlike many critical design objects, actually use it. But I wanted to make the consumer think twice before making the decision to actually buy the object. So I made it in solid stone that weighs 15kg so it’s a bit harder to take home from the store and move it around in the house. The stone also sits in a thin glass bowl that has almost the same diameter as the stone. By doing so I have made the vase a bit fragile and if the user is not careful they can easily break it.
I decided to make a vase since It’s the perfect object for me as a designer to express myself by and it’s also the perfect consumer product. It has a specific function but that function is not really one that you need to survive like food or a roof over your head. That’s why I see the vase as the perfect consumer product.
I hope that the vase makes the consumer actually question their consumer chooses. When they see the vase. I hope that they ask themselves, “Why do I want to buy this object?” ”Do I really want to spend money on solid stone?” “What will this object add to my life emotionally?” and so on.
The granite stone is a rest product from stone drilling and the glasses are handmade and blown from recycled glass.
For me, the stone is also a representation of human materialism. We often try to hide from it but in my project, I wanted materialism to stare the consumer in the eyes and make them face their own nature, since we humans are, by nature, materialistic.
The glass in combination with the stone represents a duality. The person we are and the person we want to be. I believe that we often consume more for the person we want to be than the one we are. Combining the two materials was a poetic way for me to manifest these two sides.
The important part for me in this project was to work with a critical design mindset and to apply it to a commercial product. By doing so I hope to make design research and design theory more accessible to a broader audience.