Global brands are coming forward donating millions to help fight the new coronavirus. They have been doing this in the form of facemasks and equipment for hospitals and medical staff. This is wonderful, and incredibly important as it empowers the first response to the pandemic.
On the other hand, many are taking globalization responsible for the supersonic spread of the new coronavirus – the same globalization that, because of each one of us (consumption), makes brands so big in business that now they can donate millions to help fight the virus, is the same globalization that seems to be the reason for its rapid propagation requiring now many billions to fight against it.
Globalization is indeed an easy scapegoat. It enables the lifestyle we enjoy so much here in the rich part of the world, but at the expense of the planetary natural resources, exploiting human rights, and economically segregating entire regions of the Globe. Many will try to argue against this, but what is beyond any argument right now, is the evident interdependence of companies around the world, made visible to us all by the economic clash due to the global spread of the new coronavirus.
I say: globalization is a bad design so far!
Every object has a purpose behind it and a subject (in)forming it. Designers are form-giving experts. We start with a shapeless idea and work on it until it becomes a product. Being it a paperclip, a chair, a building or a city. Sometimes we do it so expertly that users refer to us as “artists”. Other times we do it so artistically that other designers call it “conceptual”.
Many objects, though, lie in the grey area between product (commercial) and idea (conceptual). As ideas they are too constrained by commercial premises. And as products they are too idealized. Rather than failures, these objects might just be incomplete or insufficient designs.
The new coronavirus is not revealing that globalization failed us. It shows that globalization, despite or even because of its benefits, lies in that grey area between product and idea, therefore is fragile and in need of further development.
Globalization is in need of designers to make it work!