Sunday, 9 March 2014

Design Will Save The World

Few year ago, when I decided to switch from my microbiology major/course to study interior design, the whole family was really shocked. Everyone was worried about me and they all asked me questions like:

  • What would you do after you graduate? 
  • Where would you work? 
  • Do you think the market needs it? 

These were all valid questions and I wasn't sure how to answer them then. I was only 18 after all.
Generally, in Asian and Middle Eastern countries, most parents direct their children to become doctors, engineers or lawyers because they think these fields have better pay and have guaranteed jobs. Sometimes Architecture is encouraged, too, but when it comes to interior design, product designs or other design related fields, parents freak out! Little do they know, these other design fields are very important and even crucial to the growth of humanity. I kid you not! Without design where would you live? eat? shop? get treated? and no an Architect can't do it all. Design has been neglected for many years and have been treated as an alternative when people don't get into medical school. The importance of design and designers is really underrated. I am going to discuss two major design fields and highlight their importance. 

Interior Design, Why does it matter? 
A lot of people think interior design as the hobby of rich housewives, where they change the curtains and the cushions. Others refer to interior designers as wallpaper fairy. In reality, interior design is much more than that. With interior design you can design banks, offices, hospitals, cafes, restaurants, hotels and everything within walls (or even without walls!).

The job of an interior designers include, but not limited to:

  • Planing layouts and how people move in space (ergonomics). Did you know that a designer have the power to let you go in a specific way if they want? Look at Ikea for example. The designer of it will make you go through the whole store to get a cushion!  
  • Determining fire exits, space circulation and other important things that your life will depend on it in case of an emergency. 
  • Designing hallways, corridors and pathways. You know in some hospitals you wonder how did they get away with a corridor that doesn't even fit one wheelchair?   
  • Placing windows and doors correctly for ease and to get maximum sunlight. Don't you ever go into a space and think why is the door all the way over there? or why is this window facing another wall?  
  • Choosing the right furniture with the right height. Some restaurants I go to look very nice, until I sit down. The owners think she can do a better job than an interior designer with picking the furniture, but then customers face problems like hunching their backs just to reach their food. Or another problem will be the chair not going into the table, which results in customers sitting a mile from their food with the risk of it dropping in their laps instead of their mouths. You see this is not a good experience for a restaurant.    
  • Spacing Furniture. This is a big issue I find in shops, especially when I go with my nephew. He is only two, so he still uses a pram. The pram size is normal. Nothing big or fancy, but most stores we go to have wrong spaced stalls and tables that don't allow prams to go in! The sad part is, these stores are FOR children. How can you design a space that doesn't serve the clients? In this case the client is the kid in the pram.  
  • Changing the atmosphere of a place and making it suitable for different functions or needs. Some elderly people's homes are really damp and make the person there feel even sadder. With the right interior design touch, that all could change.
  • Helping children learn. Designing schools is more than just choosing fun colors. It could really make a difference in the way children view the world!  
You might wonder now, who actually picks colors and wallpaper? An interior designer could do that if the job requires it, or an interior decorator would. Yes these are two different things. 

Product Design, Why does it matter? 
You know all these problems people are suffering from such as back pains, carpal tunnel wrist issues, neck aches, headaches and etc. A lot of people blame it on diet and life style, but I blame it on poor design! Maybe if we had chairs that are designed really good for our bodies with enough back support, the back pain will be less. Maybe if mouses and phone designer better our wrists will be more comfortable. Bottom line is product affects the quality of our lives and it could prevent big health problems.

I hope these few points I raised today help you appreciate the importance of the deign field. Feel free to share any comments you have below.  

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