What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter – a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.Henri Matisse
A lovely quote! Obviously, I googled for it. But why? Today, we have created an ecosystem around us, where we are in a constant state of unrest, loneliness and unhappiness. We have probably reached the peak of narcissism and individualism, at the cost of our soul, relationships and humanity. To blow your mind off, watch Shimi Cohen’s innovation of loneliness where he talks about I share, so I am. Human being is a social creature, unable to cope with the feeling of loneliness. But today’s culture has nurtured individuality into us based on career, wealth, self-image and consumerism.
We lose familial and social connection in favour of self actualisation. Thus, loneliness has become the most common element of the modern world.
But who is to blame for building this ecosystem? Well, I think its us, the designers, the engineers and the professionals of today. The time has come, when we must build to attain the balance between loneliness and togetherness, balance between identity and relation. We must design to bring people closer together, rather than making them self-centric and further apart. Design against ego, against narcissism. I pulled out an example to explain this better :
When we allow things around us to direct us in the individualism, they will start dictating our behavior, the way we feel and the way we see things. Airtel ad above does that, which is not an evil thing to do, but does not do good to humanity in any way. Take inspiration from Vodafone on other hand, putting it nicely for togetherness, in a better way, promoting relations and positive emotions. When we start incorporating these small changes in our design, we head towards building a better world.
Next thing that we need to move away from is excess of human-machine interaction. Today’s technology is pushing us away from what we are supposed to do to what we are not. We are becoming more and more dependent and addicted to the technology, overuse of which is leading to serious mental and physical health issues. We are losing the balance, the personal touch and the much needed human to human interaction. It is high time we realised that we are on a verge of becoming the humans from the movie WALL-E.
It is us who have spoiled the world, and it has to be us who puts it back on track. Let’s move away from being puppets of the screen to being mere users of it. Let’s show the technology its place, and bring back that human touch back in our lives. Let’s design to just make it work seamlessly, not to overdo it.
Excess generally causes reaction, and produces a change in the opposite direction, whether it be in the seasons, or in individuals, or in governments.Plato
So this big talk about balance is all fine, but what’s the motivation? What’s the anchor? I think it is doing all of this for the family, friends and hence, at large for humanity. In our lives, well-being of family, taking care of it, proving your worth to it (esteem) is a big motivation to do anything. Speaking of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, most of us today fall in the bands where our needs and aspirations are Love, Belongingness and Esteem. Our ecosystem already takes care of physiological and the safety part of it, well almost. Rather than jumping to hollow self-actualisation, which today’s world is doing at the cost of other things, we should stick to more basic needs.
So whatever I design, should ultimately lead to mental and physical well-being, calmness and tranquility. Serenity. It could be through health, through harmony, through collaboration, through intimacy, through efficiency, through identity or through machines.
But the final piece of the puzzle still remains, how could a single designer change the world? The answer is pretty simple. Cultivate. Cultivate this vision, this culture. And yes, I am working towards it, propagating this thinking and continuously refining it.
Putting all the pieces together:
- Serenity is the fundamental goal. Balance is the key.
- Limit individualism, give importance to relationships.
- Promote human to human interaction, belongingness.
- Use machines and automation conservatively, wisely.
- Family, friends and humanity at large, must be end-beneficiaries.
- Scale it up to the entire world by cultivating this culture.
In coming days, I will be starting an initiative that is very much around cultivation!