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Aalto University School of Art and Design

The most dramatic delusion of humanity is the belief that regards fundamental beings and phenomena of life and philosophy as fully discoverable concepts. Human and nature, for example, are not discoverable but only interpretable through the lens of the particular set of socio-cultural, politico-economic, and technologic conditions of any given time period. As industrial era generated socialism, the post-industrial era provided us with sustainability to reinterpret ourselves, natural and cultural systems from ecology to social justice. Sustainability is woven into the very heart of life challenging the conventional habits of every aspect of life. The threatening environmental problems impose a dramatic change in our living and consumption patterns. Sustainability can be the key term to arrange a structure to eradicate the dangers of consumerism establish a new life that run in tight synchrony with natural harmony. Furthermore, what the agricultural revolution meant for the hunter society of the Paleolithic period, today, sustainability means the same for the consumer society. Both revolution and evolution compose sustainable development.

Playing at the edges of sustainability,
I am a post-graduate researcher who tries to explore the nature of 20th- Century Design Classics in order to establish a sustainable product life cycle management. Historical events may seem contextual, yes indeed they are; however, the underlying human motivations are universal. In this context, a historical perspective on design classism may contribute significantly to the design knowledge suggesting new paths for emotional durability.

The underlying reasons forming my particular interest toward the nature of design classics can be traced to my MA thesis entitled “Politicization of Design in the Context of Volkswagen” in Turkey. Studying the history of Volkswagen Beetle, including its transition to a classic and a legend peculiar to the post-war and contemporary era drew my attention to the importance of cultural, social, and political movements affecting industrial products which have reached the degree “classic” in the field of design. My interest in the topic is consolidated due to the mechanism of classism processes thatare not only based on the social and cultural dynamics, but also on design and marketing strategies of companies and designers.

The main theme of my thesis was Volkswagen Beetle’s transition where it evolved from a product designed as a result of military needs and propaganda efforts under the leadership of the National Socialist government into a symbol of humanist and environmentalist movements. The process of preparing my thesis turned out to be extremely interesting and delightful since it covered social sciences along with design and consumption concepts. Especially the fact that industrial products can be effectively employed by the state to impose political views on daily life and change lives reflects the correctness of approaching the matter within the boundaries of the triangle of culture, individual, and sociology. I plan to continue using the same methodology for my future work.

Besides the cultural and social recognition of classism processes and the dramatic meaning shift in the story of the Beetle, my professional experience underpins my research philosophy engaging the idea of a sustainable society. Working in electric motor manufacturing industry, where efficiency and quality issues are challenged by costs and pricing strategies, I was involved in a number of tasks related to production line, marketing, and monitoring international patent applications. Having an insightful observation of a set of market strategies made me gain the essential repertoire of sustainability with all of its facets and facts which impede the development in this field. Actually, the entire professional experience has become a lesson for me, how the bureaucratic mind set of companies, focused on the bottom line only, distracts the farsighted attention that can be closely associated with the ongoing environmental and social destruction of the world.


Fahrettin Ersin Alaca - Ersin Alaca Fahrettin Ersin Alaca
Postgraduate Researcher, MA.

11-2011