Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Car bumpers and design ethics

I can't get the point when changes in the design are merely an aesthetic matter and in the name of beauty allow the introduction of loads of distress to the user.

For instance I can't understand why car manufacturers switched from a plastic bumper to a fully varnished one.

Here's an example starring FIAT Punto (I'm Italian after all :P):

FIAT Punto - 1994 vs 2012

Ok, ok, I had a little car accident yesterday and this might look as a personal frustrated rant, but I swear it isn't. After all, what are bumpers there for if not for "getting bumped", that is "bump into something while preserving the car from breaking" (and therefore needing annoying and expensive assistance)?

The old plastic bumpers were great at this: if you bumped into things lightly enough [as I did yesterday] you would end up with nothing but a small little scratch on the plastic - almost invisible - black on black. That's why I loved the introduction of plastic car door bumpers: I didn't have to worry too much about car doors anymore back then.
Today with the new fancy bumpers at any bump you end up with a horrible scratch on the varnish which is impossible not to notice and forces you to go and get the car repaired both for aesthetic purposes and for honour (you don't want others to know, do you?).

A design change that make you spend money when not needed, to repair something which isn't broken is good for moving money, but how good it is for the end user?

Putting it more on an ethical level: should designers really put marketing before the greater good when making design decisions? shouldn't we, instead, take it as a challenge to make a thing more desirable, yet avoiding compromising about the quality of our choices?

No comments:

Post a Comment