Designing the World
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JOE FORTE: That’s really in conformity with a process that happened in the United States in the 1800s. The growth of the department store was correlated with women coming into the workforce as service workers and things of this sort. That was largely responsible for the change of dry goods stores into department stores. Dry goods stores were heavily gendered. Women could go if they were married to men who had charge accounts. Department stores, anyone could walk in.
There was no one at the door to stop you. If a secretary wanted to spend an hour at Marshall Field’s, hey, she could. It was a completely different kind of environment when women came into the market, and they started to change how people view products and how products were presented.
CAROLINE PAYSON: But, I also think the democratization of design has made more people feel confident in making judgments about design and how it affects them, and I think that’s another important turning point. It’s not only about what they can have and what they want, but it’s the ability to feel like they can bring their own voice to the table and make a judgment about what may or may not be good for them.
TONY WHITFIELD: You can’t really participate in certain kinds of technologies without having to make those design decisions. For example, cell phones.
CAROLINE PAYSON: Or computers. Or KitchenAid mixers. Our Education Department motto is, “We are all designers every day.”
If you want to see how design is going to be more pervasive in a normal person’s life, just follow what’s happening in New Orleans for the next 20 years—it’s ground zero of personal design decisions. Not only in where they live, but the things that they’ll be voting on in terms of reconstruction and environmental activism. Every part of anyone’s life there is going to be all about design.