To a child, this world of toys and cartoons, every artificial meme and construct, all the things that influence them and create their world view, is theirs. It belongs to them. What is strange about this is that, although they assume it, they had no hand in its creation— it was imparted to them by a bunch of 35 year olds in a design studio somewhere.
When I was a kid, the world as I knew it was made up of Sesame Street, Lincoln Logs, and Fisher-Price Little People. Later that became Lego, Star Wars, and Dungeons & Dragons. Those things made me the person that I am today. What I didn’t know, couldn’t have grasped, was that there was some 30-something somewhere imagining all these things for me. If I had, I would have thought it was a little weird. Why is this old guy making kids’ toys?
Of course, who else is going to make them? The kids themselves can’t, obviously, so somebody has to. Thing is, the vast majority of companies aren’t out to craft some grand milieu. They wanted to derive profit Z, saw need X, devised solution Y, and took it to market. What the sum total of this activity meant in terms of mise en scene, let alone the effect that living in such an environment has on the human psyche, rarely enters into the equation.
But couldn’t it? And, more importantly, shouldn’t it?
When profit is the only motive, so many other things just get left by the wayside. There just isn’t room for them. Wouldn’t it make more sense, rather than externalizing all these costs and their associated unintended consequences in order to make a profit, to turn the model on its head?
A better way might be to ask the question — if we can accomplish this thing exactly the way we want to, the way that we think is best for everyone, achieves the most ideal outcome, minimizes the downside i.e. external costs/unintended consequences, and maximizes the return on resource/energy investment, will it still turn a profit, or at least be sustainable?
If life is a movie, then the built environment is its stage and the artifacts of daily life the props, and we the directors, production designers, and cinematographers framing and creating it. Now imagine your favorite film, its carefully calculated construction, the attention to detail, and compare that with what you yourself are creating in the world. Hopefully there is as much thoughtful consideration given to your work as there was to theirs.