This is a reflection of ‘Design Noir‘ by Dunne and Raby. I first read the single paragraph above the section of ‘Design Noir’, which spoke of electronic products as the neglected medium. While I was reading through the example of the Sony Walkman, the picture of the Apple iPod came into my mind, and I somehow related both of them to be the same! They both have a personal relationship, the functionality is the similar (iPod just has advanced functionalities and higher memory). They both have a ‘cute’ aesthetic to it that signifies a “personal relationship”, and this continued. This was a clear image in my mind as to how an object sticks to its design statement and defeats the test of time to maintain the relationship it was set out to do.
Electronic products could become a medium for experiencing complex aesthetic situations.
It’s interesting to note that Dunne and Raby are inviting us to challenge the status quo and question the ‘Noir’ behind ‘genres’, where we put things ‘in a box’ because ‘they belong there’. I agree. However, this stands very contradictory to the A/B Manifesto of the authors. Design in itself, cannot be put into a box or a genre – no matter what field you take, you will cross into other disciplines, more than once. While the resulting product of design can be put into a box, having “box manifestos” is a paradox to me.
I am not sure how events unfold in one’s life – but again, it’s interesting that the first time I am pondering over a thought of ‘Design Noir’ explained by the author with the example of ideal (Hollywood) films, is the same time something like ‘Black Mirror’ (the TV Series) is becoming really popular – albeit it was released earlier, but I just began watching it the other day. It’s not that they are speculating into a dystopian world, but they choose to bring out the worst from any world they are depicting, even if its contemporary – which I believe is the essence of this author’s ‘Design Noir’ concept.
Taking a cue from the ‘Noir’ theme itself, I feel we need to look at everything we make or design like a cigarette. Yes, it is something that can give pleasure, it does solve a problem, the very thought of it creates arousal. However, we should also take into account the dangers it causes, to the user, the user’s surroundings, to other users, to a generation, and most importantly – such objects end up so within ourselves and attached to our minds, that we stop suspecting that there could or would be anything far dangerous at all.