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"When I hear the word 'designer', I reach for my chainsaw."
January 12, 2007 9:44 AM   Subscribe

The backlash against design. Are you Anti-fluff or Anti-stuff?
posted by hydrophonic (82 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Intresting.
posted by delmoi at 9:50 AM on January 12, 2007


Ok, so let's all repeat our design-school mantras together... "Less is more... Form follows function... Less is more... Form follows function..."
posted by miss lynnster at 9:55 AM on January 12, 2007


Is it just my perception, or does the image at that site's front page look at first glance like a shot of the south end of a northbound bikini?

I can't believe its layout and colour choice was entirely accidental...

(The "No, it's just you" line forms on the left.)
posted by Mike D at 9:56 AM on January 12, 2007


Good designers make things that look like what they are. That doesn't mean they have to be ugly, of course - in fact, nothing is uglier than overwrought design. "Designerly flourishes" are a no-no. Thanks for the interesting read.
posted by Mister_A at 9:57 AM on January 12, 2007


I blame the metrosexuals and the hipsters. Seriously. It's like everybody went on a binge gayness spree, and now they're all drowsily looking around thinking, "Why the fuck did we buy this plastic blob thing?"

This isn't that much of a surprise, it's a cycle like you see between manufactured New Kids on the Block music and then it swings into anti-pop music for a little bit. Of course the geniuses will separate themselves from the fads when history is all said and done eventually, the rest are just following along to what's popular.

It's about time it swung back towards an engineering focus.

Example: Screen Printed Shirts are about to die a horrifying death. I think this is awesome.
posted by Stan Chin at 9:58 AM on January 12, 2007


No, you pervert, it's clearly a man getting spanked with a flyswatter. Sheesh.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:59 AM on January 12, 2007


I read that whole article and I still have no idea what he's blathering about.
posted by jonmc at 10:02 AM on January 12, 2007


I saw an angel. A beautiful beautiful angel.

But, yeah, now that I look closer, it's a guy getting swatted.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:03 AM on January 12, 2007


There is nothing new in accusing designers of being superficial, what is more novel is designers re-conceiving of themselves as the creators of landfill. A growing number of designers share environmentalists' concern that design is part of the problem.

The AIGA conference in Vancouver a couple years back was ALL about this very topic. MANY designers are very aware of the problems of making things merely pretty. Good design should include all that. Lot's of designers want to pad thier portfolio with innapropriate complex stuff that used way to much material needlessly JUST to be cool. But there is a way to be cool and concerned.

The BIG problem is the clients. The difficult process is bringing the clients along with you, changing their attitudes and practices. And when you deal with huge corporations that is quite a task, just working your way through decision makers.

The other issue - the anti-fluff issue - I think is a knee-jerk extension of the entire anti-elite/anti-intellectual trend in America. Some times it's disguised as "punk rock" kind of sentiment. But really it's a misunderstanding of why good design actually matters. I think of UI design. I've worked with ID guys and engineers. And often the engineers just want a big red button on a metal box and then leave it to the user to figure out how to make the thing do the fifty different functions it's spec'd to do. They resented having designer on the project at all - like it was a waste of budget.

This is common in the PC world. Why a great many hated the Mac. They felt it removed the "smart" part of figuring out the tool. But good UI design like the Mac (later copied by Windows) brought millions more users to the table who found undreamed of uses for the tool.

Anyway interesting article.
posted by tkchrist at 10:05 AM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Example: Screen Printed Shirts are about to die a horrifying death. I think this is awesome.

Why do you say this? I don't understand.
posted by tkchrist at 10:08 AM on January 12, 2007


I was going to make a lengthy comment, featuring design principles and complaining about false dilemmas, but hey, tkchrist did it better than I could.

Interesting article, none-the-less.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 10:10 AM on January 12, 2007


The thing is, the gayness spree adopted a sort of John Waters/To Wong Foo/Elton John brightly-colored stereotyped sort of visual gayness that is pretty far removed from most of the mild-mannered professional, cultured, well-mannered gay men I know.

The key quote was from Jasper Morrison:
"design, which used to be unknown as a profession, has become a major source of pollution. Encouraged by glossy lifestyle magazines, and marketing departments, it's become a competition to make things as noticeable as possible by means of colour, shape and surprise."
posted by Mister_A at 10:10 AM on January 12, 2007


binge gayness spree,
i'm not sure if i'm comfortable with this language
posted by localhuman at 10:13 AM on January 12, 2007


Sorry, excessive gayness bonanza.
posted by Stan Chin at 10:14 AM on January 12, 2007 [9 favorites]


I think design can have a tendency to ties things too much to a certain time, or in a way lead to a style obsolescence.

For example, there was an askmefi thread about a Mac monitor that would have been considered the pinnacle of hip design a few years ago (as people stated in the thread), but they also thought it now looked dated, a problem that doesn't happen with plain monitors, because they never tried to look cool.
posted by drezdn at 10:16 AM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


An essay on form v. function, in tiny, gray, barely-readable text--something ironic about that.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:16 AM on January 12, 2007


It's this fetish for simplicity that gets so carried away that it compromises functionality. I'll tear into Apple, just because I use their equipment frequently. Would it really kill the design of the ipod to have a friggin 'off' switch? I bought my father a nano for xmas, and I sat there watching him stare at the thing for five minutes trying to turn it off. I know there are instruction manuals, but you need to consult a manual to turn something off??? Would it be so hard to put a damn shuffle switch on the thing, instead of making me take it out of my bag and moving through 5 menus to switch it on?

Why are there no USB ports on the front/side of the flat iMac? Cause lil Stevie just had to have the ports all lined up neatly in the back, forget the fact that every time I want to plug something in, I have to flip around the whole damn computer and drag half the stuff around the desk. It took them how many years to finally put the USB and headphone jack in the front of the powermacs?

Unfortunately, my industry is largely an all mac one. But I am getting tired of "Stevie knows best". The minute Adobe ports the creative suite to linux, I'm outta there.
posted by lovejones at 10:17 AM on January 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


I read that whole article and I still have no idea what he's blathering about.
posted by jonmc at 1:02 PM EST on January 12


I'm glad it's not just me.

Stuff should look good and work well. Why do they have to make it any more complicated than that?
posted by bondcliff at 10:17 AM on January 12, 2007


Why do they have to make it any more complicated than that?

To make them feel like they're more important then they are, I guess.
posted by jonmc at 10:20 AM on January 12, 2007


some people value aesthetics more than others, and it has nothing to do with homosexuality.

a large percentage of one population (the gay community>} tends to value aesthetics.

It does not follow from this that to value aesthetics is to be gay.
posted by localhuman at 10:20 AM on January 12, 2007


Encouraged by glossy lifestyle magazines, and marketing departments, it's become a competition to make things as noticeable as possible by means of colour, shape and surprise."

And it has kept me employed for nearly fifteen years.

I have no design degree. My education background was in Film and TV. I couln't find a real job in that profession where I wanted to live. So being one of the first fools to buy a Mac back in the day I found a way, by educating my self and working graveyard at Kinkos, to become highly proficient with the tool.

I discovered that the almost all "design" principles for film, furniture, UI, or what ever, were all the same and this tool I knew backwards and forwards could be used for all of them.

What I see now is two sides of the same coin. People complaining about pollution - because so MANY people, dilettantes like me, DO design. And that it's also too elite and "faggy". What? Is it too much porrr design? too much high-end design? Or too much design?

What it is is too much global corporate capitalism. But if not for that MOST of us would be starving.

The issue is that corporations discovered "pretty" matters and using what appear to be superficially good design principles SELLS your product.

This is not the designers fault. We have to eat too.
posted by tkchrist at 10:23 AM on January 12, 2007


It does not follow from this that to value aesthetics is to be gay.

What if you're valuing the aesthetics of some dude's well shaped posterior, then it'd be pretty gay, huh?

(don't take it so seriously, localhuman, sounds more like teasing to me)
posted by jonmc at 10:24 AM on January 12, 2007


but they also thought it now looked dated, a problem that doesn't happen with plain monitors, because they never tried to look cool

And those monitors wasted a fuck load of energy and took up way too much desk space and had half the life span.
posted by tkchrist at 10:25 AM on January 12, 2007


Flat Panel LCD monitors, tkchrist?
posted by drezdn at 10:27 AM on January 12, 2007


This is the thread I was thinking of.

I'm not comparing that monitor to the bulky monitors of yore, but rather the other flat-screen monitors of the era.
posted by drezdn at 10:30 AM on January 12, 2007


By "plain" I thought you meant "CRT". Anyway the Apple monitors are damn good. I still have three functioning first generation Apple Flat Panels. The clear acrylic look may seem dated to some people but I thought the point was not care how they look? Form follows function, right?
posted by tkchrist at 10:32 AM on January 12, 2007


Starck didn't kill design; he just wounded it. And not the way he thinks did.
posted by xod at 10:32 AM on January 12, 2007


It was inevitable that design would become accessible to the common person. It's almost pure information. It generally adds little to cost, but much to value. With increased competion between firms looking for an edge (however unsustainable) to differentiate on, how could it not have happened?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:42 AM on January 12, 2007


The clear acrylic look may seem dated to some people but I thought the point was not care how they look? Form follows function, right?

To me, it seems when something is more at the edge of design, it's much easier for it to fall out of favor aesthetically.
posted by drezdn at 10:44 AM on January 12, 2007


I love the design bonanza. Now I can be poor and have a nice environment.
posted by dame at 10:47 AM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I guess I should clarify by saying, don't be fooled (like many, many people in AIGA do) with the definition of 'design.' It's way too big of a word, it's like chefs arguing over "What is good food?" Almost every discussion I see with any type of designer gets killed by this. What makes it worse, is that everybody looooooves calling themselves a designer these days. Web designers! Product designers! Interface designers! Feng Shui designers!

I haven't put much thought into it, but if I had to split them into two groups, I'd say there are innovative designers and fashionable designers. (There are probably better words, like... "Gay" or "Not Gay.") Anyway, it's the difference between Edward Tufte and USA Today Bar Graphs.

The people who are more of an innovation focus, who use the principles of design to affect the base dna of an object, will never go out of style. This is more engineering like.

The fashion designers are just as they are. What fucks up the conversation, is all the fashion designers come in to the debate grasping to prove how important and mighty they are, so they can justify what they do and the prices they charge. This is unfortunate. They should just accept that they do whatever is in style at the moment and the state of discourse will be much happier.
posted by Stan Chin at 11:02 AM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just as in every business, there are good designers and poor designers. There's no barrier to entry into the graphic design world at a small-time level, and you can see that all the time: just how many pretty terrible personal and business web sites are out there that also have a slug at the bottom saying "we also do web design" like the design part is knowing how to work with frontpage or pagemill or whatever.

Industrial design and high-end design has a much stiffer cost of entry as your design decisions will actually cost a lot of money to implement, and where there's money there are usually semi-competent shepherds of it. Usually.

What is often a problem for the designer is the set of preconceptions that a particular client has--I'm convinced nearly everyone believes they have superior aesthetic and logical abilities, and because they believe their opinion is as valuable as the designers, they often provide a serious hurdle to doing clean, consistent design.

Great craftsmanship in any profession is a combination of utility and inspiration.
posted by maxwelton at 11:02 AM on January 12, 2007


All I know is that I get paid to sit around and make things look pretty. Sure as hell beats being an Accountant.
No offense to you number crunchers out there.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:06 AM on January 12, 2007


I'm not the only one that sees a person's (Big Brother's?) face in the flyswatter, am I?


And those monitors wasted a fuck load of energy and took up way too much desk space and had half the life span.

I assume you're talking about the Studio Displays from a few years back... I don't remember hearing that they were egregious power wasters or short-lived. Though they certainly did take up a shit-ton of desk space!
posted by BaxterG4 at 11:10 AM on January 12, 2007


Example: Screen Printed Shirts are about to die a horrifying death. I think this is awesome.

Those of us who fed our kids by screen printing shirts don't find this idea awesome at all. Maybe I'll open a buggy whip shop.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:10 AM on January 12, 2007


Oops, feed. Not past tense... yet.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:11 AM on January 12, 2007


I'm just finishing my masters' in environmental design with a specialty in planning (other disciplines at the school are architecture, ID, UD and environmental science) and have a complex and rather shell-shocked (at this point) view of what good design means in our lives. At once I'm often awed by the prevalence of great ID emerging from industry, and yet am appalled at the standard of our built environment. People watch TV and think design is nothing more than a kitchen reno. This annoys me to no end. We care so much about our own personal environment and yet think almost nothing of really trying to change our broader world.

As a planner I'm biased (to the point of loathing architects after a term working with a group of them, but this is another story) on the function side, and yet I compare European cities such as Paris or Barcelona to many North American cities and I feel that we in NA have been failed by a lack of vision from our local and regional governments as far as urban form goes. Our buildings look like shit, and I really believe that it reinforces the notion that the urban environment is something to be tolerated rather than loved. If you don't believe me, the next time you pull into a big-box mall complex take a really good look around. Usually they look like a giant, 200 ft. tall toddler has vomited all over a massive parking lot.

Paris, as a clicheed example of good urban design, is a result of redesign which was hugely disruptive at the time and yet, this top-down design created a very beautiful, livelable place. Nothing of the sort happens in NA. Going after function entirely over form isn't the right approach either, as people tend to want what they find functional now, and that includes unsustainable tools (yes I hate the word 'sustainable') like cars. I think that a little snobbery is a good thing sometimes, even though I want to fire up my own chainsaw whenever I hear the phrase 'broad gesture'.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:24 AM on January 12, 2007


I used to be a graphic designer, and I spent my days decorating other people's crap. To do that, I raided design annuals in search of ways other designers had decorated other people's crap in a clever way.

It felt like waste products feeding on other waste products. The industry had no craft, no discipline, no core intelligence that had to be hewn to -- so, in its place, I just traded in pastiche and the occasional gesture pegged to this or that random fashion.

Oh, you may say, I was a bad designer. Where are the good ones? There are a few, I suppose, although most of them, like Tufte, spend most of their time advising designers. But the track record of the industry and, by extension, its integrity is so poor that I think playing blame-the-designer misses the larger point.
posted by argybarg at 11:39 AM on January 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


I got one of these for Christmas (from my graphic designer girlfriend). I'm wearing it right now. I have *no idea* what time it is.
posted by bonecrusher at 11:41 AM on January 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


I read that whole article and I still have no idea what he's blathering about.

I'm with jonmc. That was quite the waste of bits.

And white background with light gray text, and a small default font? Fuck you. Think about your design just a little, would you?
posted by teece at 11:42 AM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don't worry, Devils Rancher, supposedly the T-shirt thing is permanently trendy.
posted by Listener at 11:45 AM on January 12, 2007


I want to fire up my own chainsaw whenever I hear the phrase 'broad gesture.'

While simultaneously extolling the virtues of Haussmann's Paris?

I think it's interesting that the criticism of design is coming from the upper echelons of the design world itself. Why? Because no else is. Design is in trouble when it's most cogent criticism comes from the designers themselves.

Nice font, too bad about the writing.
posted by xod at 11:50 AM on January 12, 2007


thanks for that link, Listener. the alterna-yuppie has to be the most repellent creature ever spawned.
posted by jonmc at 11:51 AM on January 12, 2007


"When I hear the word 'designer', I reach for my chainsaw."

And then what? Does he make an ice sculpture?
posted by jefbla at 11:55 AM on January 12, 2007


I want to kick Michael Graves in the balls. I remember buying one of his "designed" can-openers and it worked worse than one of those old-style types with just the single-edge, not the double wheeled cutter.

Oh and bonecrusher, for some reason I want to have a watch that has a binary readout. I guess it's a good thing I can't afford it.
posted by Talanvor at 12:02 PM on January 12, 2007


It was inevitable that design would become accessible to the common person.

Or maybe just 'purchaseable'. You can learn to do Balinese batik, or Ojibwe beadwork, or Norwegian rosemaling. You can't make a Michael Graves teapot at home, you have to buy it at Target.
posted by gimonca at 12:03 PM on January 12, 2007


Wasn't it Johnny Lydon/Rotten who said "Anyone can pick up a guitar and be just like us!"?
posted by gimonca at 12:05 PM on January 12, 2007


Yeah, bonecrusher, you can totally send me that watch. Because I can read it. And I dig it.
posted by dame at 12:06 PM on January 12, 2007


re graphic design: I've worked in print and design over fifteen years and I've seen hundreds of thousands of files. I can count the number of good designs I've seen on one hand. From a graphic designer perspective, I've always had trouble convincing people of the value of good design. I had one customer who wanted me to redesign their magazine and logo for $500. For a circulation of 50K an issue. Luckily, after I explained what their job would entail and that it would probably cost ten times that, they were pretty receptive. That doesn't happen often.
posted by effwerd at 12:07 PM on January 12, 2007


And I would like to echo the Fuck You for the small light gray text on a white background for the article.
posted by effwerd at 12:11 PM on January 12, 2007


You can have my watch when you pry it from my cold dead wrist. As one might expect from a metro-sexual hipster on a binge gayness spree, I love my beautifully impractical watch.

I'm just late a lot.

(PS: technically, it's not a binary watch - its base-10. I'm with you, though, Talanvor, I really want a binary watch too.)
posted by bonecrusher at 12:11 PM on January 12, 2007


Another day I'm glad to call myself a typesetter and not a graphic designer.

It's a shame that Beatrice Warde and Bringhurst and Gill aren't read that much in most design programs any longer. Even the principals of commercial firms see typography as nothing more than matching Bodoni with whatever it is you match Bodoni with.

Great article. Thanks for this.
posted by luriete at 12:17 PM on January 12, 2007


What makes it worse, is that everybody looooooves calling themselves a designer these days.

Well naturally. It's the perfect answer to a question you don't want to answer.
Be it salesperson or government official, when they ask you your occupation for some form that you do actually need to get filled out, but you really don't want them knowing anything useful about you, you say "designer", and the information content in that answer is very close to zero, but they have something to put in the box and everyone is happy.

"Designer"... I could be spending my work hours calculating missile fuel burn rates and payload, or maybe I'm a gardener. Who knows, "Designer" encompasses everything these days. It's great! :)
posted by -harlequin- at 12:20 PM on January 12, 2007


I too, down in the pits of small town graphic and web design, was a bad designer. Only time I had prospects of employment I might find interesting and I hated in myself the feeling that I was faking every opinion I had and every decision I made. I don't even know how to pick out a shirt for myself but I was pretending whatever half-random choices of spacial division and colour I settled upon were preferable to all other combinations. Of course, I was operating at a level of hackery far removed from high end industrial design, but there are a lot of people at that level kicking out paper and pixel ephemera, paying their mortgages, calling themselves designers. Is there a place where we can do meetings?
posted by TimTypeZed at 12:28 PM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is there a place where we can do meetings?

Let's meet here.
posted by xod at 12:33 PM on January 12, 2007


I'm not the only one that sees a person's (Big Brother's?) face in the flyswatter, am I?

The flyswatter is Philippe Starck's Dr. Skud.
Starck's cute little names for his products is another checkmark in the "too much frippery" column.
posted by hydrophonic at 12:34 PM on January 12, 2007


What is with the comments in this thread that equate design with "making things pretty" (or aesthetically pleasing) ?

Isn't design, particularly industrial design, about making things look as they should? Making the design reflect the function and aim to make transparent the barrier between the object and the user?

Isn't that the beauty in something like the Aeron chair? Not only is it made out of nice materials, and not only is it aesthetically pleasing, it is also cleverly conceived so that adjusting it for comfort is as simple and natural as possible.

Design != Decoration

And I think this is where the frustration comes from. Decoration is an aspect of design. Decoration is the part that has the low barrier for entry. There are lots and lots of decorators out there, and far fewer "designers" but there is no way to control how one markets oneself. Thus the pollution of the design profession.

I can't relate the number of times I've been stuck working on a project with a "designer" (read: decorator) who had control over behaviour as well as decoration specs. Simply because most people equate design with decoration.
posted by C.Batt at 12:40 PM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Excessive Gayness Bonanza
posted by evadery at 12:44 PM on January 12, 2007


I'm just finishing my masters' in environmental design with a specialty in planning (other disciplines at the school are architecture, ID, UD and environmental science)

Wow Jimmythefish I graduated from that same program... and for the reasons you make clear (as well as having had a terrible time at the school itself) got the hell out of there as soon as I could.
Sure miss that pho though.
posted by Flashman at 12:53 PM on January 12, 2007


As to the matter at hand, one problem I see with 'design', in general, and what I thought the article was going to be about (I still have no idea what it was trying to be about) is sheer oversaturation - so many things screaming out their sleekly contoured designerlyness that the things of true quality become drowned out in white design noise. A grotesqe banquet, like dinnertime at Hogwarts.
posted by Flashman at 1:17 PM on January 12, 2007


"Sheer oversaturation" is the center of anti-stuff critique.
posted by xod at 1:26 PM on January 12, 2007


Isn't design, particularly industrial design, about making things look as they should? Making the design reflect the function and aim to make transparent the barrier between the object and the user?

Is that a real question?
posted by dame at 1:26 PM on January 12, 2007


"Sheer oversaturation" is the center of the anti-stuff critique.
posted by xod at 1:26 PM on January 12, 2007


so many things screaming out their sleekly contoured designerlyness that the things of true quality become drowned out in white design noise

I also meant to day that if the environment you live in is like that, it is a problem of bad taste not of people making good design affordable.
posted by dame at 1:27 PM on January 12, 2007


And that double post up there isn't my fault, it's the fault of my over-designed, overly sensitive mouse ...
posted by xod at 1:35 PM on January 12, 2007


COMMENT OVERSATURATION IS THE CENTER OF THE ANTI-DOUBLEPOSTING CRITIQUE
posted by cortex at 1:40 PM on January 12, 2007


The creamy, delicious center.
posted by xod at 1:47 PM on January 12, 2007


With nougat.
posted by cortex at 1:48 PM on January 12, 2007


Applied with superfluous flourishes and artfully arranged
posted by xod at 1:49 PM on January 12, 2007


Too much stuff is not a result of design, rather, design is the natural result of too much stuff.

Style versus substance has been the central theme of art since the 1960s (Andy Warhol). It is at the core of the "Attention Economy", which postulates in an economy of ubiquitous stuff, attention is the scarce resource, and therefore style (attracting attention) is the substance (currency) of the economy. I don't see that changing anytime soon, despite the articles moral hand wringing about creating too much stuff.
posted by stbalbach at 1:51 PM on January 12, 2007 [3 favorites]



I can't relate the number of times I've been stuck working on a project with a "designer" (read: decorator) who had control over behaviour as well as decoration specs. Simply because most people equate design with decoration.

I agree, mostly. But even decoration has a function to the consumer. And good design has good decoration.

There are times - like with packaging design - where design IS PURELY decoration. And important decoration at that. That is if you want to sell your product in a competitive consumer environment.

Decoration has a great deal to do with taste. But if you over emphasize that line reason you still get into an elitist pompous taste argument again. I find taste debates tiresome. And let's avoid them.

Also there is the idea of marketing as part of the design/decoration formula. Some times what you intend to sell is targeted to people with "bad" taste.

I have made a good living Designing bad shit. And some good stuff if I don't say so myself. I intentionally went into web design as to avoid the land fill guilt I had when I did print design for advertising. Electrons are plentiful.

ASIDE: It's funny. My wife and I started our own Design Agency a few years back (I sold my shares this year when we grew to 12 employees) and despite that we are the LEAST designee people we know in the filed. Most people own designer this and that. You go to their homes and there is stacks of modern Design With In Reach furnishing or at the least carefully arranged hip Retro furnishings. You go to our house and there are a few old antiques laying around. You'd think we were Okies fleeing the Dust bowl or something. So. Feeling out of style ONCE we bought a DWR ottoman. We THOUGHT it was two for $800 dollars. It wasn't. One frigg'n green ottoman. $800. A couple weeks later we saw the identical ottoman at Pier One for $200. We felt like fools and never speak of this. The ottoman is now hidden away in the Room of Shame. The only thing we spend any money on is art (and vacations). Which is getting to be a problem in that we have no wall space and have taken to rotating are art like a gallery.
posted by tkchrist at 1:57 PM on January 12, 2007


Great article. It posed a lot of interesting questions.

One thing that often baffles me about 'Design' aficionados is the high regard in which they hold the endeavor, that there is something sacrosanct about good design.

Much of the article seems to reflect the dismay felt by many who feel that Design has been tainted by commercialism/consumerism, which seems silly to me. Maybe I'm being cynical, but I always considered the two inseparable.
posted by wolfsleepy at 2:15 PM on January 12, 2007


Notes on T-shirt designs:

Design is the natural result of too much stuff.

sheer oversaturation - so many things screaming

I want to kick Michael Graves in the balls.

posted by xod at 2:23 PM on January 12, 2007


I agree, mostly. But even decoration has a function to the consumer. And good design has good decoration.
I definitely agree with this sentiment too, but my post doesn't reflect this.

Sometimes, good design is decoration. Sometimes the form is the function.

An actual design professional knows when this is the case.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, decoration has become equated with design as opposed to design being a set of disciplines that includes decoration. The result is a skewed perception about what design is. Which, imho, is:
design = {decoration, utility, usability [, n other things]}

It's a holistic practice.
posted by C.Batt at 3:03 PM on January 12, 2007


Making the design reflect the function and aim to make transparent the barrier between the object and the user?

A widespread perception is that "design" is about excluding people who don't belong. To people who hold that perception, design itself is the barrier.

(I guess that's an artifact of the design-equals-fashion mindset...)
posted by gimonca at 3:11 PM on January 12, 2007


Xod, I demand royalties!
posted by Talanvor at 8:00 PM on January 12, 2007


OK, so anti-design is the new black.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 8:06 PM on January 12, 2007


The picture in the first link looks like something to smack someone’s butt with.
posted by hadjiboy at 9:26 PM on January 12, 2007


Throw me in the pile of "What the hell are you mad about?"
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 12:02 AM on January 13, 2007


The problem is that not enough time is spent on defining the problem (the goal, process, product and/or project, or any combination thereof). The result is a bunch of noise and false "solutions".

Isn't design, particularly industrial design, about making things look as they should?

This question is a good example. What does "as they should" mean, specifically? And by whose criteria? The designer's? The client's? The VC's? The manufacturer's? The purchaser's? What assumptions are being made about the "thing" in the design process, and are they being challenged?

Einstein spent 55 minutes of his given hour to solve a problem uncovering facts about it. Design would be well served to adopt a similar approach - whether the designer is formally educated or not.
posted by yoga at 7:10 AM on January 13, 2007


Silly me, I thought design was about communicating, conveying information. Some clients want to communicate "I'm beautiful and you can be so too." This is ok. Not everything is meant to last forever and speak to some deeper meaning

There is no one answer to design. It can be purely artistic or purely commerical and of course a mix of the two. I love the design of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. I also love the design of the Fiji water bottle (the actual bottle, not the label). They have different design goals, different things to communicate. Lumping design under one massive label is ignorant.

The article reads like navel gazing. I mean really who says stuff like "I killed design" !? It's a global market folks and very few people dominate a global market.

Good design exists of course, it's just a bit harder to see these days with so much stuff being produced. Somebody has to design the look of it, the packaging etc, etc. If this bothers you, stop buying so much stuff and start making your own stuff, which can be quit fun and rewarding.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:08 AM on January 13, 2007


Nature designs. Profligately. I don't see nature hating itself. It's what it does best. Why not compete?

There's a creeping plant (organic) next door that produces balls of fluff to wrap around it's seeds. Very durable, surviving 30mph gusts. I don't care about the seeds; the fluff looks gorgeous in the sunshine.

I suppose a gust of angst has to come along now and then to break off the weak branches. Off to reform school, learn more naughty things.
posted by Twang at 10:44 AM on January 13, 2007


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