- What are the guiding principles of this movement?
'Slow Design' is an offshoot of the broader 'slow' movement which began with the interest in Slow Food. One description of Slow Food runs as follows:
A similar approach can be seen on the website of Slow Swiss-made Watches, where the company describes the philosophy behind its single-hand, 24-hour timepieces:
Since the advent of Slow Food, the 'slow' label has been applied to wide range of cultural practices and phenomena such as aging, religion, education, fashion, media, science, photography and travel, to name just a few.
Slow Design has many practitioners and descriptions, but it shares commitments with the broader Slow movement around simple living, work-life balance, concern for time-poverty, and sustainability of materials and process. The ever-growing manifesto of just one Slow Design company, Deep Craft, is a useful illustration of how 'Slow' can be applied in design and fabrication. The first 11 principles (out of a list of 67 on 15 July 2017) from the manifesto are:
- Market = Material Provenance
- Maintenance = Improvement
- The functional lifespan of a constructed thing should mimic the lifecycle of its principle material.
- Entropy adds value: The functionality of a thing by definition incorporates/embodies its decomposition.
- Handwork may be the bedrock of innovation, but nostalgia for handwork is quicksand.
- Prepare for unintended consequences.
- Optimize beneficial end use.
- All vessels originate with an imagined voyage.
- Perfection is impossible to maintain.
- The tool shapes us as much as we shape the tool.
- Craft practices and products simultaneously preserve knowledge and resources.
- Do you believe this approach to design and making could have a positive impact on our consumption of products?
Yes, I do believe this, but I expect that the impact will be relatively limited. From what I have observed, the Slow approach is most often promoted by people who are fairly well-heeled. It might be nice to know exactly where the wood for a new piece of furniture was sourced, that the piece itself was hand-carved and that a new tree was planted to replace the one that was felled, but this is production by the few, for the few. The Slow movement may wear humble clothing, but it is currently an indulgence for the wealthy, largely because hand-crafted items are usually much more expensive than those mass-produced. For Slow to have a real impact on the consumption of products, it would need to touch all sectors of society, be affordable to a broader range of people, and transfer more of its profits back down the production chain to the source.
- Would you place more value on a product that has been created with this principle in mind? Why or why not?
I might, but it would depend on a calculation of 'value' to me and to my family. I would love to be able to buy beautiful, practical hand-crafted goods (although hand-crafting is not an immediate guarantee of superior quality), but sometimes we just need something 'good enough' that we can afford within our overall household budget.
I am sympathetic to the commitments of the Slow movement, but there are numerous factors to take into account.