The Post-Postmodernism Issue

I, Designer

It's the way we design that traps us.
Photo by Rob Hogg
Photo by Rob Hogg
Design is increasingly defined commercially. Not just because the most creative minds of our generation are devoting their talents to shifting consumer goods from shelves but in the very way we design. We are led to believe that we simply cannot design without the latest proprietary software, which is packaged and marketed with brand identities more closely aligned with religious visions or Platonic ideals than with the properties it possesses. The filters and tools of the dominant software have seemingly eclipsed ideas, creative visions, radically simple aesthetics and spontaneous, free, entirely original visual concepts. Keyboards and shortcuts have replaced the mind and soul of the designer. Without the latest software, expensive versions of which are released at regular intervals, we would not be able to design. Without the plug-ins, updates and add-ons, we would be left behind.

We’ve become so addicted to the agility and speed that these ever-improving tools have given us that – like a juiced-up athlete – we’ve lost our confidence. We’ve forgotten who we are and what we used to achieve without half the aid we now rely on.

It’s not just the content we’re designing: many of us know deep down that we are part of the problem, the fuel in the engine of consumer capitalism. It’s the way we now design that traps us.

Jonty Langley

64 comments on the article “I, Designer”

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ken vallario

this is not necessarily an area of fluency for me...but i have always suspected that 'design', like many of our specialized fields is one that is somewhat artificial, since it seems that design is an accident of purpose, and that those who design, do so best, as a result of having a deeper creative impulse, one closely attached to the ultimate aims of whatever object emerges...

for instance, i find it kind of strange that i live in a world where there are 'font specialists'...i am probably not very sophisticated on this issue...i happen to be repulsed by over-designed objects, like houses that are beautiful objects but look like they were built for robots. the same goes for websites, that feature over-animated, hard to navigate designs that distract people from the concept. adbusters, in my opinion is well designed, very simple, clean, yet having a subtle sense of style...

the argument in this post, is coming from the perspective of a marketer, as designers are to the object, a way of representing itself, in the same way as advertisers create an image, and so i see designer angst as being somewhat antithetical to the aims of adbusters...
again, i would be happy to be convinced otherwise, this is a statement based on little experience....full disclosure...

ken vallario

this is not necessarily an area of fluency for me...but i have always suspected that 'design', like many of our specialized fields is one that is somewhat artificial, since it seems that design is an accident of purpose, and that those who design, do so best, as a result of having a deeper creative impulse, one closely attached to the ultimate aims of whatever object emerges...

for instance, i find it kind of strange that i live in a world where there are 'font specialists'...i am probably not very sophisticated on this issue...i happen to be repulsed by over-designed objects, like houses that are beautiful objects but look like they were built for robots. the same goes for websites, that feature over-animated, hard to navigate designs that distract people from the concept. adbusters, in my opinion is well designed, very simple, clean, yet having a subtle sense of style...

the argument in this post, is coming from the perspective of a marketer, as designers are to the object, a way of representing itself, in the same way as advertisers create an image, and so i see designer angst as being somewhat antithetical to the aims of adbusters...
again, i would be happy to be convinced otherwise, this is a statement based on little experience....full disclosure...

Urbanismo

There's no doubt, Jonty has hit a button.

Architectural/Urban design competitions, FormShift and Where's the Square, last year, and the recent TownShift winners make his point.

All those winners are total captives, mesmerised by Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator. The presentations were in the vein of Pacman and Wargames graphics and had nothing to do with real live people at street level. After all the pretty colours and whizz bang techniques have run their course, its still what we have in our imaginations that call the shots . . .

Needless to say, after all the hoopla, the winners have been relegated to the trash can and forgotten. They were after all, just fun and games distractions for practitioners who are so up to their yings in irrelevant design panels, nonsensical zoning by-laws and yesterday's building codes that even faint hope, after an all night design binge, is hope enough.

PhotoShop and Illustrator are very useful tools. I use them in conjunction with my sketch book and drawing board, and I never let them get away from my imagination . . .

Urbanismo

There's no doubt, Jonty has hit a button.

Architectural/Urban design competitions, FormShift and Where's the Square, last year, and the recent TownShift winners make his point.

All those winners are total captives, mesmerised by Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator. The presentations were in the vein of Pacman and Wargames graphics and had nothing to do with real live people at street level. After all the pretty colours and whizz bang techniques have run their course, its still what we have in our imaginations that call the shots . . .

Needless to say, after all the hoopla, the winners have been relegated to the trash can and forgotten. They were after all, just fun and games distractions for practitioners who are so up to their yings in irrelevant design panels, nonsensical zoning by-laws and yesterday's building codes that even faint hope, after an all night design binge, is hope enough.

PhotoShop and Illustrator are very useful tools. I use them in conjunction with my sketch book and drawing board, and I never let them get away from my imagination . . .

joe-t

I was just thinking this the other day - we're sucked into a Matrix-like vortex where we start believing that the only solution to all problems is to co-operate with the Consumer system, as if there are no other viable models or solutions.

Joe
http://www.j-n-turner.co.uk

joe-t

I was just thinking this the other day - we're sucked into a Matrix-like vortex where we start believing that the only solution to all problems is to co-operate with the Consumer system, as if there are no other viable models or solutions.

Joe
http://www.j-n-turner.co.uk

Anonymous

Just a few weeks ago when I walked into a design studio for a freelance assignment, they were amazed that I didnt have a pen drive, let alone a Mac Book Pro, since I love my emac and that I spoke of Freehand 10 (I mean heylllloooooo HOW could I, we're in 2010...the age of Indesign!) and pencils and hand sketches.....I could almost hear them snigger....and trying to hold it back as I have been around freelancing for almost 14 years.

I SO agree about the current trends that make us feel like we're getting sucked into a vortex of the latest softwares and equipment....

Anonymous

Just a few weeks ago when I walked into a design studio for a freelance assignment, they were amazed that I didnt have a pen drive, let alone a Mac Book Pro, since I love my emac and that I spoke of Freehand 10 (I mean heylllloooooo HOW could I, we're in 2010...the age of Indesign!) and pencils and hand sketches.....I could almost hear them snigger....and trying to hold it back as I have been around freelancing for almost 14 years.

I SO agree about the current trends that make us feel like we're getting sucked into a vortex of the latest softwares and equipment....

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