Part of my Looking back, looking forward series
Janus the god of time has a two faces, one looking forward and one looking back. When it comes to design and our ability of shaping the future, we need to learn to look at both in order to know where we have been and where we would like to go.
From the beginning of recorded time, we have been working to better understand ourselves and our needs and incorporating that into design . The ‘why’ is the most important reason for doing what we do and it’s important to have a foundational understanding of where we can go.
It’s our duty to study our past in order to the world more usable and accessible. But where do we start? The answer depends on what you are working on and what you may have interest in.
About six or seven years ago, I got the pleasure of meeting Rosemary E. Reed Miller. She is the author of a book titled ‘Threads Of Time, The Fabric Of History: Profiles Of African American Dressmakers And Designers, 1850 2003’. In this book she profiled African American designers most people have never heard of including Ann Lowe who designed Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding gown.
What I found most fascinating about the book is the influence many of these designers had without receiving the mainstream recognition that many of them deserved. It didn’t make their work any less relevant, it made their work especially important. Because without it, their influence would have never been seen.
Over the coming weeks I will be looking back at various designs from fashion to architecture and the design of everyday things in order to take a glimpse into where we may be headed.