Design for survival

If necessity is the mother of invention, is prosperity the father of consumption?

Musing further on my previous post where I first brought up ‘survival market design’ leads me to think that perhaps design for this segment comes later. The first thought is what can we learn from such creations? Call in innovation, a banana [thanks Bruce, ha!] or jugaad – the fact remains that its an entirely different perspective on the way a product is designed or rather, built, to be used.

Industrial design as a profession emerged from the roots of the Industrial Revolution, and flowered into full force during the post war boom of production in the 50’s and 60’s – thus it has always had its foundations in highly industrialized nations, where the infrastructure of modern life such as electricity, water, housing etc was fully established.

But the makeshift solutions that seem raw and crude to our eyes – accustomed to gleaming automobiles, iPods and shiny shops full of consumer goods – have their own criteria for existence. They could be said to be ‘design for survival’ – one comes up with solutions for problems with the materials at hand when there are no resources available to get the best that may be available in markets elsewhere.

Taken in this context, the points that I had made in the earlier post, seem to make more sense –


1. Durable and sustainable
2. Reusable and recyclable
3. Affordable and appropriate
4. Low profit margins, higher volumes

I’ll try to find examples and hold them up against my theories but in the meantime, I do wonder if these just might make a worthwhile lens through which to look at an emerging form of design.

This conversation will certainly continue…

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