Friday, August 5, 2011

Design and Liberty

I recently spoke at the State of Design festival, in a panel called 'Mobilise Design Thinking to Solve Today’s Big Challenges'.

I spoke alongside futurist Richard Slaughter, Grattan Institute Program Director Jane-Frances Kelly and architect Mel Dodd.

We were asked to give designers a challenge - previous challenges included fire, crime and homelessness.  We then had to discuss the threats to designers meeting this challenge.

My challenge was freedom, understood as self-mastery, self-awareness, self-cultivation.  Here's a sample:
At first blush, a free psyche can be incomprehensible. Designers who meet the challenge of freedom might well find themselves unsettled, insulted or simply baffled by it. And they might decide, like many intelligent folk have over the past two thousand years, that their compatriots aren’t really free yet. “They don’t know what their true self is,” wrote Isaiah Berlin, summing up Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “whereas I, who am wise, who am rational, who am the great benevolent legislator – I know this.” Freedom is a challenge – not simply because it is hard to realise, but because it is hard to recognise. And, even for the best of us, perhaps even harder to love.

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