Oh Rulers Of The World...
First of all, without meeting any of you in person, or knowing anything more than you are all interested in design, and fairly savvy internet users (Come on, how else would you have found us?), we can pretty much guarantee that your income is in the top 15% of the richest people in the world. At $20,000 US, you'd be in the top 11%, and at 25,000 Euro, you rank in the top 7%. If you don't believe us, check out Global Rich List. You'll see how you stack up to the rest of the world population, even as a starving designer.
Your privilege doesn't stop there. As an internet user, you're among only a select 12.6% of the world. Even if you live in Europe or North America, you're one of 30-60% of the people there. This is compared to statistics that estimate 50% of the world population has never made a telephone call.
Finally, the fact that you're online indicates that you're probably living in a country with a booming market for consumer goods. Find yourself on these maps of Per Capita GDP and GNI (and get definitions of terms here). And those maps match pretty directly with this one for life expectancy.
So what? So you've got the disposable income, opportunity to work at something you love (Seriously. Design is pretty far from subsistence farming), infinite ability for connection with other people around the world (just the fact that you can find e-mail addresses for Philippe Starck and Ron Arad in about 15 seconds is proof of that). But most importantly, you have a voice very few people have -- you are one of only a few million industrial designers dreaming up the product for the entire world!
You're always hearing doom and gloom about how the world (and particularly the U.S.) are superconsumers who buy far too much product for our own good. But think about it this way: You know that products can have a huge influence in how we live our lives. Cars in America have been essential to the creation of the suburban culture, and you know what Tivo and iPods have been doing for the legal landscape.
This is where the power comes in. We've already established that you live in a country with a gigantic market -- particularly so in the US and Europe. And you are directly responsible for the choices people have available in that market. And your products can influence their lives for the better. Now think about this: In our recent U.S. elections, we only had 60% voter turnout. Compared to consumers (probably at least 90% of Americans are strong consumers. You've got to buy stuff) Voters are a tiny population. Other countries have similar political/consumer participation levels
What we're saying is this: The choices you make in your designs are probably more influential than the choices made in government. As designers living in a consumer driven world, you are the Kings and Queens. Where we go is up to you. Make us Excited about life. Make us able to support our families. Make sure our world is clean and whole for our children. Make it possible for people who don't have the money, technology, or right colored space on the map to change their situation. Make your ideas heard and write with us, or if you'd rather, start your own space to get the message out. Or make your own different decision.
Just don't make the excuse that you're insignificant.
Copyright 2004-2006 Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team