“In 2020, the industrial designer is still leading a daily struggle so that his area of expertise is recognized and valued in the same way as that of an engineer or an architect … (…) At the dawn of a new global crisis, perhaps more important than that of 2008, new opportunities will open up to us to reinvent our society together. The people who refused to reshuffle the cards yesterday will no longer be able to ignore us ”. Opinion piece by Quentin Lepetit
“Get involved, they said!”
“In 2009, against the backdrop of the economic crisis, I joined the renowned school of industrial design, ENSCI – the workshops. The re-entry speech of the director at the time, Alain Cadix, was then: “ Our society must reinvent itself! It is up to you, future elite designers, to change things, to transform and to support the industry towards this change. “. Young design legionaries, freshly hired and slightly candid, we were then galvanized, reassembled to become the standard bearers of a world to be reinvented.
Throughout my professional experiences and gleaning here and there the feelings of my colleagues and friends, I finally realized that the large French industrial groups grant too little power to designers. Apart from a few exceptions, our room for maneuver remains rather limited and our business is often poorly understood. Even if our profession believed over the years to demonstrate how valuable its contribution was, the fact remains that today, industrial design remains a discipline unknown and misunderstood by the vast majority of people. In 2020, the industrial designer is still leading a daily struggle so that his area of expertise is recognized and valued in the same way as that of an engineer or an architect …
France is not, however, stingy with big names in this area. I could cite for example some pioneers of industrial design such as: Jacques Viénot, Roger Tallon, Raymond Loewy, JeanProuvé, Charlotte Perriand, Henry Massonnet… But also the most contemporary ones: Marc Berthier, Philippe Starck, Jean-Marie Massaud, Patrick Jouin, Jean -François Dingjian, Jean-Louis Frechin, etc., who allowed and still allow today, a certain French design to shine throughout the world.
But who are the young industrial designers of today? How do they exercise their profession? Have they really become agents of change in society, as Alain Cadix wished in his 2009 speech, or have they become simple pawns on the chessboard of an industry that is struggling to reinvent itself?
Of course, we can still observe a few rare designers who perpetuate the myth of the star designer, with series of objects intended for the most affluent audiences, where only aesthetics prevail. It is moreover again and always this same “ design ”Which we talk about most of the time in the media mainstream (as such, the section “ Design ” from Journal The world always gently made me smile). No wonder that in 2020, there is still a total ignorance on the part of individuals, companies, institutions, about what the profession of industrial designer can be (the French expression ” it’s design! Which, in colloquial language, qualifies something aesthetically beautiful, also contributes to the general confusion).
I am surprised to see that most of the young aspiring designers I worked with during my studies have simply changed their path. The majority of them have chosen to exercise a profession unrelated to industrial design. Is it due to the lack of job offers on the market or was the fight as a designer too hard to lead for lack of consideration from employers?
“ Engage, they said ! “.
What is certain is that the reality of the job market after leaving school has damaged more than one! The other former students with whom I have remained in contact, generally work as a designer. Ui / Ux , service designer, product designer, artistic director or even a consultant in “ design thinking “For companies in search of” innovation “…
It is to all these designers that I wish to address myself. To those survivors of the profession, who, clinging to the branches that are offered to them, try to make a living, as best they can, from this fascinating profession. Perhaps they continue to believe that their mission is always to change society by accompanying it towards a more virtuous model?
Dear colleagues, I want to tell you that this is still possible! At the dawn of a new global crisis, perhaps more important than that of 2008, new opportunities will open up to us to reinvent our society together. The people who refused to reshuffle the cards yesterday will no longer be able to ignore us. Thus, despite our past disappointments, despite our weariness of constantly having to explain our profession, despite the donuts, we will be able to prove our legitimacy. Even if the fight is far from won in advance, we must keep this objective in mind. Each small victory, linked to the last, can produce the changes our society needs. In this complex world, it’s up to us to reinvent our ways of producing, creating and designing, in order to preserve our ecosystem! It’s up to us to challenge a proposal, a project, which would go against the societal challenges of our time! It’s up to us to question the products and services that we give to consume! It’s up to us to choose which technologies are the most respectful of the environment ( Low-tech Vs High-tech )! It’s up to us to think about fair design practices (“ fair design ») Which bring together the context, the physical fundamentals, the resources and the uses! It’s up to us to participate, today and now, to the assumption of societal responsibilities of the industrial sector ! Finally, it’s up to us to design with intelligence, ethics, responsibility and solidarity …
At a time when a nanoscopic organism (Coronavirus) shows us how fallible our modes of production, our consumption patterns and our entire economic system are, more than ever, we must get involved to produce these changes without compromise. that humanity needs. We must remember our initial commitments, remember our enthusiasm as a young recruit, when everything was possible and when we were not afraid of anything. “
Former ENSCI student, Quentin Lepetit has worked as a product designer, graphic designer and web designer. Today, he is fully dedicated to the Retreeb project, of which he is a co-founder: the objective is to create a new payment platform, which offers minimum interbank commissions, and of which a third of the profits generated are placed in CSR projects. Retreeb is supported by France Innovation, and incubated at Station F and within The Garage.