So I watched this recent Wallpaper* video from start to finish, and a side from the very interesting advertising at the beginning (don't care, get on with the guest), the most compelling statement Philippe Stark made was at the start about democratic design:
"[My greatest achievement] today is to give a better quality, kill the cost, [and] try to give some, perhaps, acceptable idea to the most people - which is the definition of what I call "democratic design". And now the democratic ecology and the democratic architecture, which I see." - Philippe Stark to Wallpaper* Magazine
From there, I have to admit that I just stopped watching because it started a flurry of ideas to write this post. If you've never heard the term Democratic Design before (and I do admit that I hadn't heard the term, but had used the concept before) it's pretty much, as IKEA refers to democratic design as "Having a limited budget should not prevent people from creating a beautiful home, with practical and sensible furniture." And, for some strange reason, the Google search of "democratic design" gives a Wikipedia hit for Karim Rashid. Then I remembered his work for Umbra and it just seemed so logical! It was the lightbulb moment that I missed completely. Democratic design is not dictated by the designer
There are two ways to use democratic design for the Joe Designer (obscure Sarah Palin reference, I know). First, it is a tool or mechanism to arrive at a concept or idea in which a consumer can easily translate the concept or idea into their daily life. And second, it is a marketing gimmick that some designers will use to lure consumers to their non-functional, but very well designed, concepts or ideas to make them believe that this is the thing they just must have. Needless to say that you should really be forewarned about the second designer option, but the only way to tell the difference between a knock-off and authentic these days is to look at the details and how they make you feel.
So what's the litmus test for you to determine if you need deomocratic design? I'd ask you to answer the three questions below:
1. Are you hung up on the status of the thing or are you really intrigued about how you will interact and what conditions it will inspire within you?
2. Are you out seeking the next best thing or are you looking to solve real problems with real solutions?
3. And lastly, are you holding back on some thought you've had or are you being upfront and honest with your designer?
If you only answered the first part of your question, you're probably better of designing for yourself. If you answered the second part of the question, you know where to find me.