Reading Victor Papanek’s “Design for the Real World,” a book I wish I had read years ago (but also— right book at the right time, you know?) It’s apparently well known, but I hadn’t heard of it until a month ago. It’s a smart and surprisingly hilarious argument for better and more thoughtful design. These are some notes I took on what Papanek calls “the function complex,” which is the dynamic system of “aspects” that can be used to describe a design’s function.
“Because in any reasonably conducted home, alarm-clocks seldom travel through the air at speeds approaching 500 mph, streamlining clocks is out of place.” The book is littered with jewels like these.”
“But fake-outdoorsy fashions have grown even more rapidly as people frantically try to tell others whom they would like to be.
And on the connection between design and education:
“All design is education of sorts. The designer attempts to educate his manufacturer-client and the people at the marketplace.”
“…[T]o learn is to change. Education is a process in which the environment changes the learner, and the learner changes the environment. In other words, both are interactive.”
It is not a book about schools or education, and Papanek seems interested only obliquely in the social consequences of curriculum design choices, but to the extent that schools are heavily designed environments, this is a very interesting book to read while thinking about schools and public education.
Charlie Huette is a public school teacher who also keeps a notebook. He dreams about making school just a little less terrible. Many of the posts you find here are based on notebook entries. You can learn more about Charlie by visiting the about page.