Whom Does Design Really Serve? | Project for Public Spaces

Looks cool, but why is no one using it? From pps.org.

This post from Fred Kent points to the sort of dissonance that can arise between designers and end users. Pictured above is Sherbourne Common, which is an award-winning park that no one uses. It is award winning, and built, because it appeals to other designers, which make up the juries both for selecting which projects are built in major cities and win major awards, but nobody uses it because regular people don’t care if it won awards, they care if it’s pleasant and fun to be in. Kent shows pictures on his post of two swings 20 yards apart. He contrasts this with Dufferin Grove Park, which he says isn’t “designed” so much as it is “cultivated;” the park has a little bit for everyone, thoughtfully arranged to maximize it’s usefulness, not it’s coiffed appearance.

This is a problem I have seen in the design fields; design is not art, because it is not simply an expression of the designer, but something made for a different user’s ease and enjoyment. Designers designing for other designers, and not for the public, are doing the public a disservice. That is why public involvement, as well as emergent DIY and tactical urbanisms, are so important; it assures that the users get what they want, regardless of the designers notions of what a place should be.


About Dave Munson
This blog is about architecture, cities, and myself.

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