Celebrate Design
February 15, 2014 12:00 PM   Subscribe

AIGA, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, is celebrating its centennial year in 2014 with a microsite called 100 Years of Design. It highlights the intersections of design and society through exemplary works from the AIGA Design Archives, interviews with living masters, quotes from leading designers and significant moments from the organization’s history. Together, these elements form a narrative about the impact of design; how it connects, delights, influences and assists us.
posted by infini (15 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Prediction, before clicking: This will be lovely to look at, but the UI will be confusing and obtuse.

After clicking: Sigh.
posted by maxwelton at 12:36 PM on February 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

100 years, because as we all know, design was invented in 1914 by Horatio P. Design.
posted by RobotHero at 12:43 PM on February 15, 2014

Saul Bass. All the way down.
posted by hal9k at 1:01 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Okay, I've found the interviews.

You can click around to go forward and backwards along a list of words, and then you can click down to a single sentence explaining that word, but then you have to stop clicking and use the arrow keys or the mouse wheel to go down further.
posted by RobotHero at 1:03 PM on February 15, 2014

Prediction, before clicking: This will be lovely to look at, but the UI will be confusing and obtuse.

After clicking: Sigh.

The tedium is the message
posted by hal9k at 1:05 PM on February 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

I posted it for the masses, for posterity, for adding another under the tag design.

Snarks away... that's why I didn't bother turning NoScript off and doing the hard work of linking, besides I deliberately left out the credits and it was right under my nose and we needed a place to relax and bitch on a saturday night...is this a meta comment? will it be deleted? oh just fiamo it while I overthink my potato salad
posted by infini at 1:07 PM on February 15, 2014

Snark-wise, I'm glad you posted it.

Upon further consideration, they probably didn't consider it a switch between clicking and arrow keys but just as a switch between tapping and swiping.

I haven't been through the whole thing, but so far Saul Bass is just in there for Bell because obviously.
posted by RobotHero at 1:36 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

they probably didn't consider it a switch between clicking and arrow keys but just as a switch between tapping and swiping.

pet peeve right there. the rest of the world doesn't use designer's tools
posted by infini at 1:49 PM on February 15, 2014

Haven't you heard of mobile-first design? It goes like this:
Step 1. Design for use on a mobile device.
Step 2. There is no step 2.
posted by RobotHero at 1:54 PM on February 15, 2014

grumbles like a luddite and glares at teh samsung tab in its box which is far too touchy swipy feely for granny's liking
posted by infini at 2:05 PM on February 15, 2014

Saul Bass. All the way down.

Yes. Mr. Bass is very popular with the kids these days. Though, his popularity seems to have more to do with how easy it is to create Bass-ish images with tools like Illustrator than it has to do with his actual importance to design history. Important as Bass is, he isn't the alpha and omega of design.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:05 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks RobotHero!
I would never have thought to change oars mid stream.

Dammit maxwelton,
for being right.

AIGA. How many years?
posted by xtian at 2:11 PM on February 15, 2014

I used to be an AIGA member but the embarrassment and guilt was overwhelming. Guilt from the vast amount of PAPER the organization would ship out to me -- junk flyers, postcards, magazines, brochures, all super-thick card stock, sometimes glossy but usually matte. The thickness of the paper stock always got to me. It was as if they were saying "yes, whole forests were cut down for this piece of paper!" It always reminded me of criminals in the movies lighting $100 bills on fire and throwing them onto the ground, just to show they can.

And like others have said, everything with the AIGA logo is always lovely to look at, as if everything were some Art with a capital A statement, but very little is ever useful or understandable.

The micro-site screams Design aesthetic but also "we haven't a clue what we are doing, but it looks pretty, doesn't it?"
posted by brianstorms at 1:06 PM on February 16, 2014

Towards a New Information Architecture
posted by infini at 10:02 AM on February 17, 2014

After thirty years as a practicing design professional, I have come several realizations. A fairly major one is that "any design professional should not be allowed to design the things he or she professes to design". Specifically, architects should not be allowed to design buildings, civil and traffic engineers should not be allowed to design roads, etc. While this sounds like pure snark - and there is a healthy (unhealthy?) dose of that in there, there is a rational reason for this.

Professionals have a terrible propensity to overthink, overanalyze and overdesign their work. As a result, they don't use their experience to design something "obvious", they instead seek to "innovate", particularly in ways that are not obvious. In other words, they make their designs impractical to construct and difficult to use. They substitute poor design for good design, and call it innovation. They lie to themselves.

Good design is invisible. You almost never notice when something is designed well. It's intuitive, and it feels natural and obvious. Often there are cultural lessons, memes, learned culture, say, as traffic striping seems intuitive and obvious to an experienced driver, but nevertheless, learned. It's when designers seek to stray from that culture that they create horrible and clumsy experiences. When designers seek to gratify themselves, and not the user, they fail.

There are exceptions. The Alessi citrus squeezer, for example. It looks like a pure sculpture, until you realize - or are told - that it is indeed a tool, and it's one that does what it is supposed to quite well. It's functional. But this is a very rare exception. Oh, and it's pretty darned expensive, too.

Creating something functional, beautiful, and elegant is a noble ideal. But it is an ideal, an ephemeral, slippery, and elusive goal. And frequently the demands of the design program itself run counter to that ideal. The designer sometimes must simply accept the obvious, in order that functionality is not obscured by the designer's ego, the designer's weariness of things that are trite, cliche, or obvious.

It is design like the 100 Years of Design (celebratedesign.org) that makes me want to repeatedly stab the designers of that site in the face, and scream "HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING???" I can only imagine what beautiful and elegant designs they showcase. Because I sure as fuck can't actually see them, having gotten stuck in some cul-de-sac of innovation.
posted by Xoebe at 4:06 PM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

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