Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Design II-

Engineering is closely related to science. Indeed, as an engineering technician I worked at one point for a man holding the title Scientist. I am aware of a philosophy of science. If there is a philosophy of engineering, I have yet to see it. So, off to Wikipedia I go. Yep, here it is. Amazing.

Design is inherent in the task of the engineer, and so there must be a philosophy of design. Ah, here that is. Aesthetics is an element of design engineering, along with a design that suits a purpose and performs a task or set of tasks correctly. My thought is that the ethical element of social influence should be an element of design.

In particular, making things as comfortable and user servicable as possible. That would be attention toward access of parts and assemblies, and the various ways such assemblies go together. Plumbing, electrical, or simply a matter of structure. The design should also account for adaptability to special needs.

Automobiles seem to be designed foremost with aesthetics and intangibles in mind, with the focus on the sale of the machine. Ease of maintenance and repair is not always foremost in the design. As a result the owner cannot assume a lot of the repair and maintenence tasks without ultimately defering to a specialist. The specialist often faces a daunting and unpleasant series of tasks performing many repairs and upkeep tasks, due to the design not taking their needs into account.

Houses are often the same. Plumbing is hidden away, and so difficult to access. Electical elements are not always easy to access without much effort. The repair and maintenence are not high on the list of design considerations. I would contend that the aesthetic demands that establish these tastes are driven by the upper class in society, where maintenence and repair is religated to a lower class and can be simply paid for. The lower classes are stuck with these sensibilitied they inheret (and perhaps even intentionally adopt) from the higher class.

This is, of course, a speculative contention on my part. I am, in essence, expressing my own values which tend toward easy owner maintenence. My own life philosophy places value on simplicity and designs that empower the owner of an artifact to keep and care for it themselves. I recognize that my own values are often at odds with the society in which I live.

This does reflect the fact that there are social and ethical elements in philosophies such as the philosophy of engineering and the philosophy of design. Aesthetics, economics, marketability, availablility of resources. Many factors that don't necessarily come readily to my own mind.

My own longing is for a philosophy that contributes to autonomy and individual empowerment. I want to be free of the aesthetics of the wealthy. I want to live in a user servicable world.

That is the essence of my philosophy of design.

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