Dunn and Raby’s chapter Beyond Radical Design reminded me a lot of a German film titled Goodbye Lenin.  The film focuses around the main character’s mother, who was a staunch supporter of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).  When she witnesses her son, the main character, protesting in support of the reunification of Germany, she collapses and goes into a coma.  While in this coma, East Germany reunites with the west and the Soviet Union collapses.  Her family is told that any form of stress could kill her instantly when is recovers and is allowed to return home.  As a result, her son and daughter have to create two worlds, one that is the GDR inside their apartment, where she is staying, and then live in the modern world, which has become a capitalistic state.  Dunn and Raby state on page nine of the chapter, “…we need more pluralism in design, not of style but of ideology and value.”   The family of the woman had to learn to live a pluralistic life in order to protect their mother and a lot of the people I have watched this film with criticize it for saying that it promotes not telling the truth, even when the truth could hurt another person.  The film never, explicitly, states whether the maker thought capitalism or socialism was the superior ideology, but it shows the trouble those who have lived through government regimes have and how they must find a way to live a pluralistic life, one that design must account for.  Even though we today have more and more examples of capitalism in the world, there are several different flavors to choose from.

A lot of this movie focuses on consumer demand.  The mother requests a specific brand of pickles at one point, a brand that was only available in the GDR and is no longer available.  On pages eight and nine of the chapter, Dunn and Raby use the fall of the Berlin wall as their example to say market-led capitalism has won out and we no longer have other social or political possibilities and in some respects, this can be seen as true.  There is a whole website dedicated Ostologie (eastern nostalgia http://www.ostprodukte-versand.de/) that probably would not exist if it were not for the demand of those who want to relive a different time.  But at the same time, is Dunn and Raby’s statement true, that market-led capitalism is it and that we have no alternatives?  Can we live a hybrid life of multiple values?  There is a reason why I included the website above.  While the selling of niche products is an example of capitalism, what is it they are selling?  Could they be selling an ideology different from capitalism at the same time?  Pluralism is very subtle, but it does exist in design currently.  Today, it is all about wealth and if the designer intends to make money, they must design in a fashion that offends the least amount of people.  In the case of the family in Goodbye Lenin, it was not money, but their mother’s life

But with this, it has come at a cost.  When designs are created that are less socially aware, people lose sight of what is actually happening around them.  They just take it as it is and do not think about alternatives, cause an alternative does not exist in their eyes, like the mother in the film.  Dunn and Raby use the 80s as the turning point, where design became less provocative, and commercialism took over.  It has been a slow change since moving back to more radical designs, ones that push specific ideologies — that we can no longer take what we have been taught or seen through our entire lives as the only correct way if we want to push forward to the best future possible.  Social networking, crowd sourcing, among others has contributed towards finding alternatives, it just depends on how well people are able to see the future it intends to create in a positive light.

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