who was Victor Papanek?
Born in Viena, Asutria, in 1927, he was the father of sustainability. He was a designer and educator who became a strong advocate of the socially and ecologically responsible design of products, tools, and community infrastructures. He disapproved of manufactured products that were unsafe, showy, maladapted, or essentially useless. His products, writings, and lectures were collectively considered an example and spur by many designers. Papanek was a philosopher of design and as such he was an untiring, eloquent promoter of design aims and approaches that would be sensitive to social and ecological considerations. He wrote that “design has become the most powerful tool with which man shapes his tools and environments (and, by extension, society and himself)”.
One of his designs that clearly reflects his design philosophy is the Batta-Koya, which means, “talking teacher”. The government of Nigeria and Tanzania ask Victor Papanek to find a solution to communicate with their people issues such as public health, birth control, nutrition, agriculture, among others. The problem was that, even though English was the official language, there were 238 native dialects and many of the people in the village were illiterate and the communication of information was based on oral story telling. The solution was to redesign a cassette player that could be at least assemble in those countries with some modifications in order to make it easier to use for the people of the village:
- Simplification of the mechanisms: there were only two controls: volume and a T-shape on/of switch (which also controlled forward and reverse)
- The battery case was externalized and held the two batteries in correctly aligned position (eliminating the positive and negative)
- The housing was made of plastic and with the manufacture capabilities of developing countries
” The only important thing about design is how it relates to people “ .Victor Papanek