Chapter 13: Needs

Conventional growth-focused economic wisdom promotes human craving for novelty and things as both natural and desirable. Yet humans’ desire for cyclical variety is easily manipulated by commerce. The cultural message of growth pervades our daily lives, clouding our perceptions, so that cutting through the sheer volume of commercial clutter to distinguish between real needs and manufactured wants is far from easy. But Manfred Max-Neef provides a view of human needs and motivations that helps us reflect deeply on the industry, design practice and ourselves.

Max-Neef’s taxonomy of human needs (see fig. 10) was developed from his work with small communities in South America, to help identify their ‘wealths’ and ‘poverties’ and then ...

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