State of design report

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In 2019 the UK Design Council declared “Whatever the question, design has an
answer.” While not quite so bold the British designer Jay Osgerby maintains that
“Design is the Answer to a Very Difficult Question.” Both valiant statements play
on Cedric Price’s massively exploited conundrum “Technology is the answer, but
what was the question?”
A superficial trawl of the web reveals – “Big Data Is the Answer … But What Is the
Question?” – “Design Thinking Is Not The Answer - Especially If You Don’t Know The Question” – “Universal Design – The Answer to Everything?” – “If Design-Based Research is the Answer, What is the Question?” And the web also exposes curiously aligned beliefs that “Love or war or music or summer or Jesus or art or wool (or countless other subjects) is the answer.”
Perhaps Price was already playing with Shakespeare’s mission for Hamlet “To be, or not to be, that is the question.” It seems that the answers already surround us. It’s the question we don’t know. But its vitally important to place before this catechism the simple fact is that each designer creates their precursors. Their work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future. Price asked what WAS the question and everyone after him writes what IS the question as if there is no conception of the past. WAS used to be the totally artificial world; a future responsible. Whereas IS is now the totally financial world; a future already mortgaged. In which case we can only ask - was the past simple, is the present perfect and will the future be affordable?
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherRoyal College of Art
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


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