“Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.”
Robert L Peters
Design Creates Culture
The first part of Peters’ quote, “Design creates culture,” emphasizes the pivotal role that design plays in shaping the way we live, interact, and perceive the world around us. Design is not limited to just physical objects; it extends to the design of systems, institutions, and even digital interfaces. Every design choice, whether conscious or subconscious, has the potential to impact the cultural landscape.
Think about the design of a city’s public spaces, for example. The layout of parks, streets, and public transportation systems can foster community engagement or create isolation. Likewise, the design of products and services can influence consumer behavior and shape societal norms. In essence, design is an agent of cultural change, as it introduces new ideas, challenges existing norms, and reflects the evolving values of a society.
Culture Shapes Values
The second part of the quote, “Culture shapes values,” delves into the reciprocal relationship between culture and values. Culture encompasses the beliefs, customs, and practices of a society, and it is profoundly influenced by design. The way we dress, the food we eat, and the art we appreciate are all influenced by the culture in which we are immersed.
Moreover, culture shapes our values by defining what is considered acceptable or unacceptable within a society. This, in turn, affects our moral compass, guiding our actions and decisions. By understanding this interplay, we can appreciate how design, as an integral part of culture, contributes to the formation and evolution of our values.
Values Determine the Future
Finally, Peters’ quote concludes with the assertion that “Values determine the future.” Our values serve as a compass, guiding us toward the future we envision. As design continually shapes culture and influences values, it becomes apparent that the choices we make in design have a direct impact on the trajectory of our future.
For instance, sustainable design practices that prioritize environmental responsibility reflect a value of stewardship for our planet. As this value becomes more deeply embedded in our culture, it sets the stage for a more sustainable and eco-conscious future. Conversely, design choices that perpetuate inequality or prioritize short-term gains can lead to a future riddled with social and environmental challenges.
Robert L. Peters’ quote eloquently underscores the profound interconnectedness of design, culture, values, and the future. As designers, consumers, and members of society, we should be mindful of the choices we make in design, as they have far-reaching consequences. By harnessing the power of design to foster positive cultural shifts and promote values that align with a more equitable and sustainable future, we can actively participate in shaping the world we want to inhabit. In the end, it is through the lens of design that we can create a better tomorrow for ourselves and generations to come.