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PHD-DESIGN  September 2011

PHD-DESIGN September 2011

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Subject:

Re: Design Policy?; was: Design Policy in Canada Masters Research

From:

Francois Nsenga <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 19 Sep 2011 12:04:05 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (65 lines)

Dear Peter and colleagues

You wrote:

- ' I'm skeptical of the focus of a "design policy." '
- ' Does this mean Canadian design as an industry consortium? '
- ' I find the practices of design too wide-ranging, dynamic, and disparate
to have a meaningful sense of policy at the national level. I'm not sure
other design professionals or policy makers even understand what the
purposes are'
- ' I would prefer to focus on policy functions well understood in
government.'

I, too, am skeptical. But not only due to the actual Canadian government
ethos and orientation. Today's bureaucrats may be commissioned to write a
design policy along the lines of current political decisions, just as one of
the previous governments (Jean Chrétien's, some 10-15 years ago) had one
(different) policy written (I have a copy somewhere in my files) in line of
orientations of the time (and, I guess, availability of left-over funds to
be spent before the yearly closing of the budget of the Department in
charge!).

My skepticism is aroused more particularly by the fact that most of those
policy reports end up somewhere either in trash bins or on some Library
shelves. After the Chrétien's government report was tabled 10-15 years ago,
an attempt was made to assemble a group composed of Canadian designers (I
offered my contribution) and federal civil servants to discuss the report
recommendations and their eventual implementation. But I was ultimately told
that this phase in reporting process had not budgeted: so the meeting was
never convened.

Yes, with probably very rare exceptions, Canadian design, just as in any
other so-called "modern" countries, is part of the industry consortium. A
consortium that now controls most of the avenues of our lives worldwide,
under a paradigm based on the sole concern of return on monetary investment.
Any policy, design or of any other kind, is and must be currently devised in
respect with such a paramount imperative. In his post today, Derek says it
well: "The motivation for this is the need to support the economy and
business practices that can stimulate the economy. Some governments have
found it helpful to have policy on design as a way to support the economy."
I however think what most traditional design trained professionals lack is
this overview of what is required of them by the Consortium composed now of
world top business persons in conjunction with rank politicians in G7 etc.
As for public service policy makers, some do, but others don't know quite
well the core of what is expected of them; and after all, they are not hired
to know of, question and discuss the core of policies. Rather, they all are
just requested to "function": all are functionaries in charge of conceiving
and building policies but strictly following given guidelines. Others are in
charge of just implementing and reinforcing economically and politically
approved policies.

I personally believe there is a need, at the present point in time, for
design professionals who, first, fully understand and aim at complying with
the (necessarily paying!!) desiderata of the world business cum-political
consortium; but also at the same time objectively critical of those
desiderata. But, there is a sea of a difference between just practical
compliance and providing enlightened advisory. Currently in our field, we
mostly have many professionals of the first kind. In my view, enlightened
advisers - among others to business persons and to political officers - in
design policy functions are still waiting to be trained within our
universities.

Francois
Montreal

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