Making Plexa#1 at SLQ. Photo by David Sandison

Design’s true contribution to the wider community is something money just can’t buy.

Beyond fashion, sales, price point and the hottest-newest item for sale, there is the intrinsic worth of design that transcends market forces.

Can you buy the true belief and passion, ingenuity, and provenance built into projects over time? Can you measure the value of direct relationships and knowledge grown through design process and investigation? What’s the current asking price for meaningful places of experience that grow within the memories of future generations? What is the creative capital that creative thinkers bring to the wider community?

We may be able to buy the products and projects of design thinking, but that doesn’t ensure the acquirer values their meaning and concept. Many Australian Retailers, Designers and Architects have conveyed their clients’ focus on price rather than an understanding of the background story to products and projects. Especially since the GFC, clients and buyers are caring more about price.

At some point in the recent past sell overtook soul.

How much do you sell those for? Where can I buy one? How much did that cost to make? When one answers the barrage of questions with ‘Actually you can’t buy these anywhere”, “That’s the only one in the world”, or ‘Our business plan for this product is not to sell it’.

There is an understandable silence. And then there is a smile and often a nod, and a ‘Wow’ exclamation. I have witnessed this response through the Tracelet Project.

Personal experience and connection. Photography by George Dedic.

Tracelet is a symbol, a talisman. It took about ten years for it to evolve into its present form. You can’t buy it anywhere. These are personal gifts that are not sold. You can only receive Tracelet once the story of its origin has been shared. Yes it’s a bracelet that’s meant to be worn.

But above all, Tracelet is to be treasured and to remind the wearer of the gift of knowledge, of process and a connection with the designer/maker.

So far I have personally given 400 Tracelet sets to people. In doing this I get something far more important than a few dollars in the bank.

Giving Tracelet at Brisbane Indesign 2012. Photography by George Dedic.

I get to share Tracelet’s story directly, witness peoples’ responses, hear what they see and connect in a way that is not possible within the normal retail model.

It is my personal belief that a designer’s true gift rests not just in the physical objects and places that they have made through out their career. These are merely the perspiration from an endeavour to make everyday experiences better.

INSPIRATIONAL MOMENTS! Array Installation for the 2007 Qld Architecture Awards Event: a collaboration between Christina Waterson and Cox Rayner Architects. Photography by CFC Photography.

Our biggest contribution is the opportunity to inspire and move others (professionals, students and people from not only the design sector but all areas of the community) to think differently.

Our philosophies, sharing our process and knowledge and (yes) how these ideas are embedded in the environments and things that we design in the world, are integral to creating a spark; a spark that challenges people to think differently about what and why they do what they do in life, work and business.

Passionate chats at Why We Create’s Queensland Launch. Photography Joshua Thies.

Making connections at Why We Create’s Queensland Launch. Photography Joshua Thies.

Our true value is not the price that we get for our designs or the number we sell over time, but rather the relationships between people and personal connections made within all of our thinking.

Written for DESIGN ONLINE, The State Library of Queensland’s new online resource.

Design Online is delivered and curated by the State Library of Queensland’s Asia Pacific Design Library. The Asia Pacific Design Library is a shared space (physically and digitally) for industry, academia and the public to come together in the generation of new knowledge around design in the Asia Pacific.

Check out Design Online and the also fantastic Design Minds!

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