The concept of a good or perfect life appears to be a very powerful one for businesses and service providers, and a very attractive motivator for consumption activities. Given the proliferation of the word ‘lifestyle’ in marketing and popular media, the use, misuse and selective interpretation of lifestyle clearly carries economic value, and yet there appears to be no conclusive description of what it means to the average home-owning Australian, currently representing about 70% of the population.
Research into the roots and contemporary expression of lifestyle reveals key issues of class, status and aspiration influencing our consumption behaviour. What was been found to be consistent with images of a ‘perfect life’ or ‘better lifestyle’ was the lack of clutter and absence of human habitation, triggering further investigation on the influence of ‘stuff’ on our way of living. Homes full of personal debris and detritus were sites of conflict and dissonance for many inhabitants, in some cases leading to extreme and debilitating frustration with the domestic environment and furthermore impacting on internal relations and social lives.
Our ‘lifestyle’ choices flow into other local worlds and to global communities; damaging the environment through our consumption of resources and appetite for manufactured goods, through the dumping of waste and through the unbridled use of energy in order to maintain our unsustainable ways of living.
The design industry itself contributes to the shaping and selling of unsustainable lifestyles through its influence on most-man made outputs - products, clothing, services, houses, holidays… It is time design contributed to more future-oriented patterns of living when delivering on client projects.