Nº 277
Editorial:

Mexico

Text: Stephan Ott

Design

The contrast could hardly be any greater: Elon Musk’s red Tesla Roadster has been floating through space since February to the sounds of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” with an astronaut dummy at the wheel while on earth 123,000 Model S Teslas are recalled on account of the possibility of rusting screws in the power steering. Both events are linked (in this case relating to vehicles) by an interconnection of usefulness which, according to the philosopher Martin Heidegger, only becomes apparent to us when something goes wrong. Rusty screws are immediately recognised as a problem and, on closer observation, a Roadster launched into orbit for PR purposes also represents a profound vehicle dysfunction.

Now design is primarily about developing and manufacturing things which are as unsusceptible to defects as possible and are user-oriented, smart, self-explanatory, and practical instead. But as interconnections of usefulness can permanently change – even Musk’s Roadster is meanwhile officially listed by NASA as a celestial body referred to as “Target Body 143205” – this is often easier said than done.

 

Context

Just what relevance there is in terms of Mexico as a design country is an issue we explore in our focus theme, whereby it swiftly transpires that design both historically and in current everyday practice reveals more capacity for integration than the politics of our time whose urgent task it should in fact be. Not merely that the Trump administration is obviously unable to detect any problem more acute than building a wall between the US and Mexico; in terms of design, the official associations still rarely manage to exploit opportunities such as events like the World Design Capital, which Mexico City has been proclaimed this year.

 

 

Situation

A fundamental review of the various woes and their respective possible solutions should therefore be given consideration, whereby it is initially only of secondary importance whether this is from a philosophical perspective, in the form of manifestos or with the aid of design thinking as, ideally, the methods would be complementary. What would be decisive is that design is recognised as an independent discipline to which not only the designer but also the user always makes a significant contribution. After all, the latter is the person most experienced and therefore most eligible to provide the manufacturer with valuable information, as already noted by Plato in his “Politeia”.

With this in mind, we should definitely do it better than Elon Musk. In spite of everything, the question remains as to what will be left of a red Tesla Roadster once it reaches the other end of space – apart from a private pop event by a billionaire which borders on hubris.

 

Stephan Ott, Editor-in-Chief

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