Design and chess blindness

Low-tech design paves today a path designers should have never left, but businesses are still dazzled by a technological sensationalism that forgot to give answers.

Portrait of José Antonio Giménez José Antonio Giménez Valencia

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Sometimes the best defence is the best defence. This is not a mistake but a famous maxim from Kasparov talking about another chess player colleague (Petrosian) who was able to exasperate the adversary with his strong approaches pointed to the preservation of the pieces in the chessboard. There are always alternatives to the modus operandi we know. There are also alternatives for design, especially in these days of crisis.

I am not talking about stagnation or about the reduction of the investment directed to innovation, but quite the opposite: about the defence of the existing industrial heritage —the alive one, not the inert. That one that if we do not take care of it, not only causes a sense of neglect and memory loss, but also the lost of our jobs, of the productive ability and also (although less evident for many people) of socio-cultural models for a country —or, if preferred (for avoiding the geopolitical terminology), for a territory.

In the XXI century, businesses define a country as much as folklore does, whether some people like it or not. The richness of the culture of the Iberian Peninsula is undeniable, as it is that it does not pass on concepts such as efficiency, savings, seriousness and strength —ambiguous terms that mark today the commercial transactions in almost the whole globe.

The businesses with solid values, tradition and recognizable products do generate commercial attractiveness and, indirectly, strengthen other sectors that are based on clichés of which courtesy is less objective and is governed more by boosts and leisure —factors that are not very valued in the stock market. Avoiding the lost of those businesses that were once strong and that today, with another mentality, could recover the brightness of the past, should be the goal of the industrial policy. But it seems like we are still dazzled by empty and intangible terms: innovation, technological development and others like Smart, B2B, etc.

On this path of industrial recovery (it does not need an accelerated industrial recovery with all that entails and means), “design” has a lot to say. And let’s understand this term on its industrial meaning of “analysis and development progress to give an effective answer to a necessity.” Furthermore, we can include the references to this discipline related to the improvement of the corporative image and identity and of its products.

Let’s forget about customising our product with foreign names and smudged with makeup, and let’s focus on the essence. It has more sense to look over that table that does not find place in the market anymore, with an appropriate intervention, than trying to amaze with something new whatever the cost, generally high, of which the market fee and functionality decreases very fast since the exact moment of its presentation.

Let’s forget about sophisticated hidden mechanisms like furniture that lights up or that allows you to listen to music, because that is not the future; that is a badly understood present. This valid kind of solution requires lots of time and investment, and we now need quick effects that do not modify our processes. That is, liquidity. And, after that, investment pointed to Hi-Tech.

But sending our pawns with a move they all know would not be useful. It is necessary to look over the game plan in the international market. We arrive late for taking the prestige labels. The autonomic policies impeded a strong global brand. And the war of guerrillas has only been useful for a few ones. Let’s focus on Low-Tech. This is, those processes where the own form eases the function. Let’s ask the user what do they want, and let’s adapt our product to those new necessities. We maybe just need a fresh look on our product catalogue that gives new values —small hints that could reposition us in the market. It does not suppose a high investment and can refloat part of our stock.

The problem is that the chess blindness of some people leads them to castle themselves in indefensible positions. They maintain the same catalogue, the same product or they just incorporate new things that are not such thing or that are made by the idea or surprise, instead of by the durability and function. Maybe, because of this, we know Kasparov more than Petrosian. One of them knew how to combine attack and defence. The other one was a master on just one of them.

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José Antonio Giménez

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