Changing From a Consumer and Immediate Society

The value of the classic

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Wasting time

We are living in the culture of change and immediacy. We’ve lost patience, we’re no longer able to wait. We take immediacy for granted. We require prompt responses. We dismiss anything that takes time. We don’t value the importance of waiting. We have far too many options within our reach. Nothing surprises us, because we value almost nothing. We’re tired of everything.

Time and its unwavering advance is the only thing that unites human beings, it’s what makes us equal. It doesn’t matter where we are or how we live, the cultural level or economic status we have, time is unforgiving.

We remember when going on a journey was like a project. It meant making an effort to visit something you were interested in, something you were really looking forward to. You armed yourself with patience and devoted days, even weeks, to prepare your trip and organize everything because, once you started your journey, getting any necessary information would prove difficult. In that case, the goal entailed an effort in all aspects, devoting time and resources as a consequence of the interest or value the trip would provide.

The technological revolution

However, the facilities we have now allow us to travel effortlessly. We simply have to “check” the destinations that have gone viral or the locations where the influencers we follow have already been, and make sure they have low-cost airline service. In conclusion, we travel superficially, routinely, or to boast about it in front of our friends and family but, mostly, because it’s cheap.

Thus, this essential ritual of “taking our time” to do something has been lost due to the advances at our disposal and the changes they have generated in society. New technologies and especially those related to the field of communication have drastically transformed our society, which has assimilated promptness and immediacy as a necessary routine, acquiring, as a consequence, the social capacity of imminent adaptation to any event.

The classic design in Madrid.
“The importance of balance”, Banquín, Madrid, 2020, Marta Urtasun, Pedro Rica/Mecanismo. Photo © Asier Rúa

This situation—which currently defines us and could be a benefit due to the high amount of resources we have—actually implies the reduction of the necessary time we devote to any reality with which we interact. We need to assimilate a high amount of information in a very limited time and the consequence is the superficiality with which we approach it.

The real value of things

Something that happens in general, and therefore also occurs in the field of architecture and design, is that we’re constantly exposed to information that shows us what’s happening around the world at any given moment.

But, does everything that is published and reaches us really have value or interest? Probably not.

We repeatedly receive the same images through the different communication channels we use and perceive, driven by the inertia of minimum effort. We consume information in a disinterested, almost forced way, thus encouraging the lack of value of things.

This way of life and social mentality that originates in the technological revolution of communication, has expanded to tangible life, to real events, to the elements and gadgets we use in our everyday life, to the spaces we live in…

Everything has the limited validity allowed by the accelerated inertia of digital reality. Something captures our attention for an increasingly shorter period of time, and we quickly lose interest.

The validity of the classic

Some time ago we participated in a panel discussion with different chefs, businesspeople from the hospitality industry, and designers and architects who had designed their spaces.

In general, they all took the same position and defended the integration of the most popular trends in their projects. Thanks to being part of those trends, their spaces had become social benchmarks.

In this case, we took the opposite position, stating that all those premises filled with the latest novelties were close to their expiration dates and lost their meaning once they had been conceived. Following the argument we presented during the debate, we question the usefulness and sustainability of this type of design that only responds to the criterion of temporary economic profitability.

The value of the classic design in Lasarte-Oria (Spain).
”Design: A sustainable tool”, Martín Berasategui, Lasarte-Oria, 2019, Marta Urtasun, Pedro Rica/Mecanismo. Photo © Imagen Subliminal

We support the existence of spaces linked to different activities and typologies that were designed at different times in history, in which the goal of creating a quality, timeless and adaptable space prevailed and that continue to be valid and in use in situations that are entirely different to the time they were designed in.

This is the coherent response that should be provided to the reality we are experiencing, recovering the real value of things, committing to quality and devoting the necessary time and resources to achieve it.

We should not use design conditioned by trends that surround us temporarily. We should stop, take our time to reflect and provide a response to the needs inherent to human nature with solutions that can be adapted to different situations and needs society might have.

In this way, design becomes a sustainable tool, a barrier to unbridled consumerism induced by the current technological reality, capable of creating quality spaces that will last and will not need to be refurbished completely but will just adapt to the new needs that arise. We will not want to get rid of these designs because they will convey the quality of the process with which they have been created and the value this entails in the spatial result.

Valuable design is timeless, classic, something that cannot be improved over time and continues to be valid. Let’s waste our time with classic design.

Main image: “Time stands still”, Hotel Akelarre, San Sebastian, 2017, Marta Urtasun, Pedro Rica/Mecanismo. Photo © Imagen Subliminal

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