Design and social commitment
The ideas and offers that I am going to explain later arise not from the analysis of theoretical approaches, but from an eminently practical perspective arisen from the daily experience that from díez+díez diseño, the studio of which I form a part, we have developed in the last years; To this professional labor inside the area of the design of product we prefer a fundamental premise, and it is that we are buyers, consumers and users before that professional of the design, and therefore we do not understand the fruit of our work untied from personal approaches marked for certain determining social, even in the development of products of private consumption; We have very clear that the final result of our work like designers is destined to these buyers and final users, over our first clients, this is, the manufacturers, and even the clients of these (retailers, prescriptors, etc, etc.) and certainly to the margin of modes or trends.
Before speaking about our work, much more modest to a dimensional level that of town planners or architects, but much more near precisely for this employment of the human scale, and of some concrete examples of the same one destined to the public space, I want to do a brief description of the area in which the result of the above mentioned labor registers to the citizen.
This public space, fundamentally urban, acquires today per today a worrying condition, especially in the big cities; it is in them where the essence of the public thing and for extension of the common thing and if we want to go beyond, of the democratic thing, simply, endangered; Before the threat of the invasive incontinence of the traffic rolled of private use, the speculative anxieties and ravenous of the real-estate sector or the simple disability of the administrations to define or foment a model of city, and going beyond, a model of housing, according to the new conditions and challenges, without repeating nineteenth-century formula and patterns of bourgeois city.
This the lamentable scene the one that the citizen, I repeat, fundamentally urban, finds to develop an offer of meeting, of leisure, of enjoyment beyond the private and intimate space of the domestic thing; It is this scene saturated of cacophonies orchestrated by the traffic, the consumerism, the hurry, the incoherence of the elements that should articulate the above mentioned space, as it are the street, the square(seat), the park, etc., etc., What takes the citizen to the weekend stampede and knocked down in search of the horizons virgins and not urbanized, still, that provides the sea to him, to looking for refuge in the big malls that provide an authentic leisure of greenhouse to us, a leisure time where from the lighting up to the temperature, passing for the safety or the tours are totally guaranteed, or the dip in the historicist or geographical zapping or geographical that provide the theme parks to us.
We should understand that this public space, which definitively is used privately or at least individually, already is by means of the walk, of the reading, etc., it is turning into the area of socialization and of relation for big sectors of the population (old people, immigrants, young people, poor ...) that do of the street his living-room, and even greatly more, of being.
It is this spatial frame the fact that we are when we receive the order of developing our work for the public area and more concretely in what has come to name a urban furniture; it is in this case when these premises of commitment, ethical if it is wanted, about that I have spoken previously meet increased; This is like that since whereas for the product design of private or personal consumption, we presuppose or at least we want to think about a critical, responsible and free buyer, who chooses our designs depending on needs or pondered affinities, in the public area the objects of our work are, for saying it somehow, "imposed" to the user, already be for a public administration or a private promoter; Before this situation the only possible choice on the part of the citizen is it of using or the not above mentioned equipments, of using certain spaces attending to the "furnishing" of the same ones; we should not forget that the above mentioned equipments are a public service more to the citizen and not a simple decorative element destined to fill the horror vacui with our cities or simply to masking their faults; Of the same way the citizen should get used to considering the above mentioned service at the moment of evaluating the management of the public corresponding administrations.
Hereby, on having faced a new order of urban furniture our first consideration repeated with the time and systematized with a view to the manufacturers that they need of our services, is it of which before the multitude of potential users and uses of this furniture it is practically impossible to cover the needs of all of them in each of the developed products; What we claim is to be covering different ergonomic needs, proxemics, etc, etc, with that to be creating a sort of catalogue that allows, to the public administrations, to provide fundamentally to the urban space of a wide range of possibilities of use; What we would recommend to a town hall at the moment of contracting the supply of street furniture for example of a great park would be the "zoning" of the same one and therefore the utilization of from elements even of different manufacturers, understanding the diversity of activities that develop in the same one, but simultaneously supporting the balance that allows not to turn our cities into real catalogues of urban furniture.
As particular example to explain this exposition approach I pass to present the program of urban furniture Walden; this project arises from the order realized by a company, Ecoralia dedicated to the marketing product for the construction, made from products from the recycling; the proposed aim was the development of urban furniture, fundamentally benches, using specifically the called one Syntal; The limitations derived from the employment of this material, only obtained by extrusion, joined the prejudices as for the term "design" on the part of the client, as well as the both budgetary and productive limitations of the above mentioned client, they led us to proposing the creation of the most wide and versatile possible program. The result is a catalogue of 21 offers type, besides the incorporation of what we name a free typology in the one that is the client (administration, promoter) the one that chooses the wished configuration, with elements of up to 5,6m. of length. What Walden achieves is to provide punctual solutions to a wide range of needs of seat that there could need the user of the public space.
Another example developed in our studio is the bollard Haiku, produced by the company taken root in Ciudad Real, Tecnología & Diseño Cabanes; The aim that we proposed ourselves at the moment of defining this one we might say antipathetic element it was to create an object that placed in the thoroughfare was not perceived only as a coercive, round, totalitarian and limiter object, but creating a fluid, agreeable both visual and tactile element, which was favoring that before the possible and inevitable occasional shock between bollard and pedestrian, was minimizing the possibility of fall or the meeting by edges and aggressive vertexes.
Finally I want to centre in two on examples that explain clearly as the process of design it does not remain totally closed as soon as the designer has fulfilled his mission, but he is any of the intermediaries that the meeting product and user facilitate, and even the latter, responsible to some degree, for better OR worse of the efficiency of the above mentioned product.
First of all I want to present the pernicious use that RENFE does, in I make concrete on the station of Atocha, of a magnificent design; it is a question of the underutilization, with the aggravating factor of evil ecological example, of a few containers of litter which design identifies perfectly the separation of residues for categories but which mission is annulled by the manager of this element when being used an only bag of collection.
Another example is that of a warning panel used in the lobbies of some stations of the Underground of Madrid. Later I reproduce the text that published in the newspaper EL PAIS in relation to this matter.