Tuesday, November 08, 2005


■ What is “LifeStraw”?

This is a water filter called “LifeStraw”.
“LifeStraw” is a portable water purification tool that cleanses surface water and makes it safe for human consumption. It is just 25 cm long and 29 mm in diameter and can be hung around the neck. “LifeStraw” requires no electrical power or spare parts. “LifeStraw” filters up to 700 litres of water and effectively removes most of the micro organisms responsible for causing waterborne diseases. The unit price is $2 under. And this is one of the winners of the 2005 INDEX design award in Denmark. (INDEX: It is the one of the world’s largest design and innovation awards. The first meeting was held in 2003)

■ What is designer’s WORK? What is social CONTRIBUTION of design?
This is one of the best examples to explain the social contribution of design.
That’s because it can save many valuable life and it is also very convenient to use and has a low unit price.

But it is also true that this kind of design makes me confused.
So I’d like to ask two groups of questions at the side of a professional industrial designer.

The first group of questions relates to the definition of design.
1. Can we say this is a designer’s work? In other words, what is a designer’s work and what is not a designer’s work?
2. What is the differentia between designer and engineer? In other words, Can’t engineers make “life straw”? Why is it made by designer?
3. In this respect, what should designers learn in school? And ultimately what is the competitive power of design or designer?

The second group of questions relates to the meaning of social contribution of design.

This is “iPod” by Apple Computer.

Compared to “LifeStraw”, can we speak iPod design is contributing to the human society?
“iPod” is beautiful and many people like this. Furthermore, it gives a huge amount of money to Apple Computer.
I change my question to this. Can we say the beauty of design contributes to the human society?

■ Conclusion
“LifeStraw” is not a money-making design. However human society needs this kind of design.
Although this kind of design doesn't make money or profit, it plays an important role of social contribution for people in the human society.
“iPod” is a different kind of design compared to “LifeStraw”. But “iPod” also contributes to the human society at a different view of design.


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