Karl Marx’s “Theory of Alienation” argues that the capitalist mode of production denies employees a personal sense of pride and satisfaction, consequently making them unhappy and frustrated. Of course the working environment is largely responsible for how well an employee feels, but what about the way a product is made?
Designers mostly look to creating product that meets the consumers needs and of late reducing pollution to the natural environment.
But what about the factory environment and what about the needs of the people who spend 8-10 hours per day making the product that you, or I designed? Can we also design to meet the needs of the makers, and what are they?
As designers we try an push the boundaries, designing new product with greater value than ones already on the market. Could it be that by focusing on what the consumer needs we ignore the fact that our design may be adding additional stress and strain to the person making it?
And what if we could design product that caused the worker to feel better, for example with greater pride and satisfaction?
Not so long ago in some parts of the world it was considered acceptable to have children working in factories and for the work week to consist of 6, 15 hour days..That has since changed, but not on its own. It took the will, planning and intervention of an empathetic group of people to reform the once conventional industrial practices.
What other factory working conditions can be improved and how can design help?