Failure - Love it.

Lately I've been thinking about the concept of 'failure'.
After one of my visits to the sci library today I got out a book called 'Success through failure - the paradox of design' it's full of examples of designs that have failed, from bridges to skyscrapers (it's predominately an engineering book) obviously it concludes that innovative design is about anticipating and averting failure. The author rightly claims that we build success on the back of failure - not through easy imitation of success.

To me, this notion of failure needs to be emphasised in our critical thinking. Failure automatically appears as 'negative' but paradoxically, in time, it plays a 'positive' role. (learning from failure)

Different thinkers have tackled this in different ways. 'The queer art of failure' is a GREAT book by Jack Halbertsam. Halbertsam takes the notion of failure and puts it on a pedestal, adopting a sociological focus she attaches concepts of pride and agency in the difference that 'failure' espouses. There are similarities here with radical feminists and the growing voice in disability studies.

So what would this philoposhy look like in design? I know what it looks like aesthetically (think D. Carson etc) but what of in the teaching of design or what people think of design?

As I designer, I battle with the concept of failure. For it is what you are trying to avoid by having a tight well thought out, expansive and knowledge based process. But at the end of the day I am a 'human' designer, and humans are flawed. I notice that my fear of failure is emphasised by my 'being' as a designer, If a design fails - I fail. That's quite a load, and something they don't seem to teach you to deal with at design school.

But if this concept of failure was studied, and understood, it would no longer be feared. If designers could reflect a bit more and show more of their process -  messyness, dead ends and kaputs, if the embarrassment around this was questioned - then I reckon it would surely help designers like me and the design community in general.

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