Praxeology for designers

Praxeology for designers

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Praxeology is a science about human action. It was applied in field of economics by Ludwig Von Mises in his economic treaty “Human action”. In praxeology we use verbal deduction to prove certain facts. Those facts become axioms — statements regarded as obvious. The fundamental axiom of praxeology is human action, a fact that humans act in order to achieve their goals. Further observation of human action tells us that allocation of limited resources by humans is most efficient under conditions of free prices, private means of production and free exchange of goods.

If a system is designed in accordance with these axioms we can assume that it is going to be sustainable (meaning it sustains the needs of the present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs). At the moment in many countries markets are deformed by regulatory factors that limit the potential of humans to act freely and efficiently. One example is price control in area of interest rates. Prices act as information for market participants and encourage them to undertake specific actions. Controlling prices of credit does not reflect the true market needs. As a result allocation of resources is not efficient and in many cases leads to a crisis because of lack of expected returns on investment.

Dieter Rams, famous designer and one of the biggest influencers in field of design, often expresses his opinion about current state of matters. In his opinion currently there is too many products that are neither needed nor useful and do not comply with his 10 rules of good design.

His intuitive observation matches a more scientific analysis. Low price of credit in western countries like USA, UK or Germany sent information to markets that there is no need to save money. Everybody started to consume beyond their means. Instead of having products that focus on increasing our productive capacity we have an abundance of consumption products that very often do not intend to improve our quality of life but compete in area of cheap consumption goods to satisfy our exuberant needs.

Designers should with their designs focus on maximizing the value of their products. Designing yet another useless gadget or 10-milion dollar detached house might not deliver value in times of distorted market realities. On the contrary it takes value away as it keeps sustaining and unsustainable status quo.

I believe that design can change the world if we do not ignore the truth. In our politically correct world it is hard to see the fundamentals because of smoke and mirrors game of propaganda apparatus. However we should stay optimistic as with the age of internet there is more and more potential for designers to educate themselves even if it requires leaving their comfort zone and immerse themselves in the world of praxeology.

Tomasz Kaszura
University of Wolverhampton

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