The Theme for 2006 - "Universality through Individuality"
The essence of this theme is to stop thinking about averages to suit all users and to start considering the importance of designing unique tools for each individual person.
Traditional mass-produced goods have always been aimed at "the average consumer", a fact which has forced many people to make compromises. Today's consumers are far more individualistic, and the image of the "average consumer" has faded somewhat. What is needed today is not an "average" design, but a "universal design" which will satisfy everybody.
Traditionally, all tools were uniquely suited to the user. A carpenter would make his own tools, and a chef would have his own unique set of knives. Nowadays, some ball players may have their own unique bats or made-to-order shoes.
Tools are an extension of the human body designed to ease and improve certain tasks and functions. Clothes reinforce the function of the skin, computers enhance the brain, spectacles and telescopes aid the eyes, and cars take over the function of the legs. Naturally, all tools must be uniquely suited to the needs of the user.
Standardization and universal design refer to a "universal philosophy", which had to be born from the modern production mechanism for producing large quantities of the same goods. Even this "universalization", however, should start with a vast number of individual characteristics.
The aim of this theme is to encourage the participants to go back to the basics of tool making - to use one's own ideas and hands to search unique tools perfectly suited to his/her own circumstances. Ultimately, "a thing for everyone" is something that starts at individual needs, which can be discovered within oneself.
Through this program, we hope to break through some of the major problems facing modern design by reconsidering the modern theme of "universality" from the perspective of "individuality".