Most of the Kickstarter projects under the Design tab congregate around the themes of bikes, cheese, typography and iAnything, yet there is now a subset of urban interventions. A plastic tent for a livability conference in Prague. Uni, a portable open-air reading room for New York. A rooftop farm in Mumbai. The filtration system for +Pool.
What do these projects have in common? First, they are in famous cities. Second, they access hot-button urban topics: rooftop farms, reclaimed railroads, (self-reflexively) urban conversation itself. And third, they are gizmos. Critic Reyner Banham, in the oft-quoted essay “The Great Gizmo” posited that it wasn’t massive infrastructure projects that changed our world, but devices. Urbanism would lose out to industrial design. And that’s just what’s happening on Kickstarter. You wouldn’t Kickstart a replacement bus line for Brooklyn, but you might Kickstart an app to tell you when the bus on another, less convenient line might come. You can’t Kickstart affordable housing, but the really cool tent for the discussion thereof. Gizmo is close to gimmick, and worthy goals have to be dressed up in complex geometries for Kickstarter.
Source: Design Observer.