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June 16, 2005 || 6:03 am
Rant of the day:
Erm - has anyone told Jonathan Glancey that oil is a precious commodity? so cars that fly might be a really silly idea?
The celebration of this kind of toy - which is damaging out of all proportion to its usefulness or fun quotient - really annoys me. Before the world tells me I'm a killjoy, I have nothing against occasional, really fun and really useless things. Fireworks, for instance, are wonderful - although I was interested to see that in India they are an air pollution problem during Diwali due to their excessive presence. But fireworks, once or twice a year and done in style, give so much pleasure to so many people compared to the amount of energy they use up that it seems a fair deal. Similarly the extravegance of buying a Chanel dress or getting decadently drunk on expensive cocktails in Loungelover or a lot of other things that give the thrill, status and sheer pleasure that this weird-ass car probably does, while doing a helluva lot less damage to those who can't afford one.
But cars that fly...well, they give pleasure to the person in it (really fun until it gets as normal as driving a regular car) but for the rest of us plebs who can't afford one, they pollute our air, make lots of noise, spoil the view and probably use enough gas in an hour to power my home for a year.
It's amazing that a journalist can write a flippant piece on gas-guzzling skycars without even mentioning climate change despite having previously written about how we should do without "out-of-town superstores, air-conditioned shopping malls, cul de sacs of executive homes" in the name of energy-saving. But skycars are sexy and fun and shopping malls are ugly and unglamorous - and this is why the Guardian likes having their architecture critic and their car critic be the same person. It's all design, right?
Yes, it is; but you're also missing the point of design if you think its sole purpose is hedonism, whether in cars or buildings. Design is a kind of magic, but is also a way of exercising responsibility. The designer is intimately aware of the interconnectedness of everything - of how the way you want your iPod to feel means that the plastic has to be made a certain way, which, at the end of the day means one person will have a job and another won't. And every designer weighs up the delight factor with the responsibility. And delight to whom: not just to your immediate end user. Some things justify more crazy, beautiful, irresponsible things than others and a really good designer can make the crazy thing also a responsible thing - think Shigeru Ban's cardboard tubes. But skycars...
Thank God they won't make it onto the market [famous last words alert]. And I should stop dissing architecture journalists before my future employers tell me to curb my loud mouth...
|I'm an urban designer and regeneration consultant with my own practice. At other times I like playing the fiddle, eating and writing.|
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