Have we been affected?
Hi, I am Fredrikke Rusten studying design for art direction at LCC.
This uni year has gone by in a flash and we are already almost halfway through 2021. In March 2020 I believed that the pandemic would be over by now but we are finally starting to see what looks like the end of it soon. I started my internship at an agency in Norway at the end of August 2020. I was so fortunate to be able to work from the office at that point. It was great because I was able to socialize, form relationships with my coworkers, prove myself and learn more about the industry and myself all at once. As covid started taking a more prominent role in what was quite subtle restrictions in Norway, in November we were all sent home and told to work from our households. The question I asked myself was, how would this affect the learning profession, to what extent would it effect the agencies work and how can we benefit from an experience like this?
As of February 2021, I had been working from home for about three months and I could feel the lack of physical relationships, the importance of small talk at the office in order to get inspired, and the absence of motivation kicking in. Although it is hard, I do realize that the world and the agency was still trying to thrive even when working from home. This is extremely interesting because it opens up the question of, do we need physical workplaces in the future, or will more jobs have the opportunity to work remotely. I believe that this new phenomenon of more people working remotely does have both its pros and cons in our complex world. One pro that I have realized is that I have used nearly no public transportation due to lockdown. This applies to many other people who have tried to avoid traveling, hence bringing everyone’s carbon footprint down by a large amount. One negative aspect of working from home is the lack of social interactions one has on a daily basis. Even though digital interactions/meetings work, I do believe that physical interactions are a vital part of everyday life and that that connection cannot be replaced online through a screen.
John Thackara has written a book called ‘In The Bubble’ and there he talks about how our society has become extremely materialistic and how he wants us to rely less on stuff, and more on people. The question is how we can design society another way and design products that will be sustainable, cruelty free etc. This is what we need to focus on and use our already existing technology to help this complex world that we have created but that is destructive. One role design can have is through creating desirable, aesthetically pleasing packaging and products that will push our society forward to go in the right direction. Design has such a vital role for the consumer and I believe that due to social media, people are more engaged and aware of things that are aesthetically pleasing while also aware of sustainability. This is something that we have been working on at work. There has been several instances where we have been conscious of designing packaging that would fit in our complex world so that for ex. Its co2 emissions would be less, designing in order to use as little waste and material as possible.
I worked with a big Norwegian corporate company called DNV back in December and they wanted to create Corona prompts in order to communicate certain corona restrictions they wanted these to by physical, but us as designers were able to convice them that since no one is at their offices we only create them for digital use in order to save paper, ink and electricity. They agreed to this and the final outcomes were only digital. By educating DNV about the benefits of only digital outcomes for the environment and how it can be used for better communication w were able to create something for a world that does not need more posters that will just be thrown away later, but rather ones that are ever lasting, on the computer and social media.
Bruce Sterling wrote in Shaping Things that through all our new devices we are becoming increasingly connected but through all this new information and technology how can we navigate through it. What we need are new tools as designers in order to create a sustainable world while also still maintaining good design. The car industry is where design meets great technological function and where even some now have become more eco-friendly, and a great example of this is Tesla. With the leading battery technology and incredible technological functions all throughout the car, Tesla has also had a large focus on the design of the car. They designed an electrical car with a sleek and somewhat sports like appearance. Due to its desirable design and battery efficiency, it easily becomes a consumer favourite while also acting a sustainable product. They have tried to solve a complex problem in society and have really come up with a type of eco friendly packaging, creating a desirable and aesthetically pleasing product.
After nine months in industry both working from home and at the office I see how the agency has been able to benefit from this situation and really pull through and motivate us as employees. We have been able to find solutions to missing the social aspect in the workplace with social gatherings via zoom instead. I believe that this pandemic has really challenged the complex world we live in today but has made people become more creative with their problem solving. It has brought the best and the worst out of people, but all in everyone has learned something about oneself and we have seen both the negative and positive effects that the pandemic has had globally.
To really finish off I want to ask you what your thoughts are on the effects of the pandemic globally. You should also ask yourself in such a complex, networked and technologically driven world are we really holding ourselves accountable and doing what we say we do? Are we as sustainable as we say we would like to be? Are we holding ourselves and others accountable to take care of this globalised world? I believe that we have come far, but that there is still a lot to learn.
- Bruce Sterling, Shaping Things: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/shaping-things
-John Thackara, In the Bubble: https://www.amazon.com/Bubble-Designing-Complex-World-Press/dp/0262701154
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