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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TJ

I agree with this, however there is an ever expanding group of people that are creating open source solutions to any proprietary system that has been set up and they are proven to be working. we as a community of designers and developers must work together and communicate and collaborate so make free solutions that open up more possibilities for creative expression. It is not defined by what tools we use, but how much you shelve you mind. If your not into the whole adobe thing because you feel its a monopoly open up your options, use linux, gimp, hack some wordpress, use everything and anything that is free. You can create using the computer as a medium without contributing to the monopolies.

TJ

I agree with this, however there is an ever expanding group of people that are creating open source solutions to any proprietary system that has been set up and they are proven to be working. we as a community of designers and developers must work together and communicate and collaborate so make free solutions that open up more possibilities for creative expression. It is not defined by what tools we use, but how much you shelve you mind. If your not into the whole adobe thing because you feel its a monopoly open up your options, use linux, gimp, hack some wordpress, use everything and anything that is free. You can create using the computer as a medium without contributing to the monopolies.

Anonymous

" It is not defined by what tools we use, but how much you shelve you mind."

You could of stopped there.
I understand the entire Adobe or use this interjection, but I find something such as 200 iso B&W film much more powerful than digital. Can it be summited? Of course not, it needs to be submitted 30 seconds after the shot (not 10 days after being developed.) Will I get an award for it, probably not because it was "submitted" instantaneously for the "drama."
Same can go with anything digital.
Whatever happened to collages?
I (I frequent galleries) see handfuls of amazing work that is done in mixed collages, or mixed media. Newspaper ads with demographics for iPhones purchased per ethnicity, in a city, based on political party demographics (and they get deeper than that, if you can believe it or not.) Or, reporting that is run in different publications but side by side that show you - visually show you - how reporting of the "news" is "reported" differently.

(Basquiat has some amazing based on work like this.)

Why can't we, as designers, still do that? Fundamentals. Our eyes, our heart, OUR HANDS, our vision?
How come there is no market for that?

That, I am sorry (or maybe not) to say it, but that is what has to CHANGE. Not the programs that are packaged or sold for ridiculous prices, but WHAT (the "format") is BEING DESIGNED TO SELL.

Period.

I am pretty sure that no child was hurt in making an Adobe product, or any mountain top was torn down in ruin, or anyone's lives savings was belched into the netherworld. So, I see no argument with the product itself, but the product design, and execution.

So to bitch about a product is really ridiculous! We understand we need that medium (hopefully), but what are we designing with that medium?
Who made it?
Where did it come from?
What did/What are it's effect?
etc,
etc,
etc.

If you lose your confidence in what you are designing, you are NOT DESIGNING THE RIGHT PRODUCT.

I guess that's my Animistic view on this situation - use your soul. Realize the soul you are "creating" in your work.

/rant

Anonymous

" It is not defined by what tools we use, but how much you shelve you mind."

You could of stopped there.
I understand the entire Adobe or use this interjection, but I find something such as 200 iso B&W film much more powerful than digital. Can it be summited? Of course not, it needs to be submitted 30 seconds after the shot (not 10 days after being developed.) Will I get an award for it, probably not because it was "submitted" instantaneously for the "drama."
Same can go with anything digital.
Whatever happened to collages?
I (I frequent galleries) see handfuls of amazing work that is done in mixed collages, or mixed media. Newspaper ads with demographics for iPhones purchased per ethnicity, in a city, based on political party demographics (and they get deeper than that, if you can believe it or not.) Or, reporting that is run in different publications but side by side that show you - visually show you - how reporting of the "news" is "reported" differently.

(Basquiat has some amazing based on work like this.)

Why can't we, as designers, still do that? Fundamentals. Our eyes, our heart, OUR HANDS, our vision?
How come there is no market for that?

That, I am sorry (or maybe not) to say it, but that is what has to CHANGE. Not the programs that are packaged or sold for ridiculous prices, but WHAT (the "format") is BEING DESIGNED TO SELL.

Period.

I am pretty sure that no child was hurt in making an Adobe product, or any mountain top was torn down in ruin, or anyone's lives savings was belched into the netherworld. So, I see no argument with the product itself, but the product design, and execution.

So to bitch about a product is really ridiculous! We understand we need that medium (hopefully), but what are we designing with that medium?
Who made it?
Where did it come from?
What did/What are it's effect?
etc,
etc,
etc.

If you lose your confidence in what you are designing, you are NOT DESIGNING THE RIGHT PRODUCT.

I guess that's my Animistic view on this situation - use your soul. Realize the soul you are "creating" in your work.

/rant

Anonymous

What do you want, a rubber biscuit!? This lament is without focus or appreciation for history. Why 'design' in the first place; out of a sense of purpose or the need to survive?

The technology you use does not define your purpose, nor do industrial tools limit your ability to think, but you do live in a culture that provides opportunity and limitations which are economic in nature. Productivity demands allegiance to current technology. Look at digital photography. It's adoption was rapid and ubiquitous, for obvious reasons, but it didn't stop the photographer from the requirements of understanding composition or the nature of a compelling image.

If you want freedom, then design with purpose, not for a pay check.

Da Vinci issued commanding design with a superior talent and an advanced understanding of nature. His ability to communicate design is celebrated because of its clarity. He transcended the mundane from within the ranks of his brethren through his devotion to purpose.

Anonymous

What do you want, a rubber biscuit!? This lament is without focus or appreciation for history. Why 'design' in the first place; out of a sense of purpose or the need to survive?

The technology you use does not define your purpose, nor do industrial tools limit your ability to think, but you do live in a culture that provides opportunity and limitations which are economic in nature. Productivity demands allegiance to current technology. Look at digital photography. It's adoption was rapid and ubiquitous, for obvious reasons, but it didn't stop the photographer from the requirements of understanding composition or the nature of a compelling image.

If you want freedom, then design with purpose, not for a pay check.

Da Vinci issued commanding design with a superior talent and an advanced understanding of nature. His ability to communicate design is celebrated because of its clarity. He transcended the mundane from within the ranks of his brethren through his devotion to purpose.

Anonymous

"If you want freedom, then design with purpose, not for a pay check."

I agree, but wouldn't that be hard to do without starvation?
I can fast; I appreciate a long, nice fast to show my dedication,.. but to WHAT extent?

(http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/bio/l/leonardo/biograph.html an interesting read, and serves as a reminder.

"Unfortunately, just as he frequently failed to bring to conclusion artistic projects, he never completed his planned treatises on a variety of scientific subjects")

Anonymous

"If you want freedom, then design with purpose, not for a pay check."

I agree, but wouldn't that be hard to do without starvation?
I can fast; I appreciate a long, nice fast to show my dedication,.. but to WHAT extent?

(http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/bio/l/leonardo/biograph.html an interesting read, and serves as a reminder.

"Unfortunately, just as he frequently failed to bring to conclusion artistic projects, he never completed his planned treatises on a variety of scientific subjects")

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