Given that Friday afternoons in the studio seem to inspire such grand feats of procrastination—what colour is your hot Ribena? (no lies)—the doldrums of a wintery Monday should surely be utilised to deliver some sort of balance… In one of my many forays into cyberspace that go awry—where research loses its ‘re’ and becomes merely search—I have once more been led to reconsider, like time and time before, why I do what I do. What is design and why does it matter?
Introspection is a dark and dangerous thing and—noting that when a designer dallies with the philosophical awkward things can quickly happen—I have decided to try and temper my thoughts and feelings with a good dose of common sense and enough intellectual rigour that would befit someone who claims to be able to strategise for others benefit.
Introducing the Monday Treatise on Design.
Such an arrogant name—however, as a quick justification, I don’t for one minute think that this will be any sort of treat to read, it is merely an indulgence on two levels:
1. With a little bit of love, such a title has the potential to become a typographic gem
2. Writing about this kind of stuff is a treat for me; liberating and counter informative.
Writing about ‘design’ is really about catharsis. This is obviously an over simplification, however most design writing is for designers and perhaps a small number of people who are tangentially involved with the design industry. Most normal people don’t really know or care about it and there is very little overspill into normalcy, that which might be observed with other creative areas like food, fashion or photography. Design has no real common appeal and as such remains underestimated, seen but unobserved and of course undervalued…
Being a famous designer is like being a famous dentist—Noreen Morioka
Writing about design therefore, is moderately pointless. This is obviously an overstatement, however I don’t labour under any misconception that my writing is important in the grand scheme of things. I am one designer, in a small studio, in a small city, in a very small country on the edge of Western Europe. However, I still believe that design can change the world—just take away all of the designers and see what happens! By deduction then, I must regard that what I do, what we do, is an important part of a whole. Design is a process, both macro and micro—the principles of design and its very specific way of thinking consistently build on what has gone before, by other people in other places.
Writing about design is how I intend to become better at what I do. Design as a profession relies heavily on, and indeed teeters on that tenuous interface between the practical and the theoretical. This is my theoretical exercise, where theorising so often serves a more commercial purpose, this is more about jogging—some real jogging wouldn’t go amiss either. By writing without driven purpose, I hope to reveal more about design practice than practicing will. I’m aware few will read this, but that’s not the point; as one of our favourite clients once said “who really wants to read about spreadsheets?!” Yet he still commits to writing lots of great material on the subject, knowing that he is adding value to his business by the very act of writing, believing that actually becoming a process makes a change.
So here is the plan. On occasional Mondays, I mean to write about design—personally, theoretically, critically and skeptically. Here’s some of what’s coming:
• Frankly, tenders are rubbish: Why tendering for design is consistently mismanaged and self–defeating.
• Colloquialism is a boa constrictor: Why cultural inwardness strangles creative progress to a choking, blue-faced death.
• Commiteed to failure: Why we wont dare work with ‘democratic’ decision makers.
• “Who is coming to dinner?” Never mind, here’s my recipe, get cooking: Why design without strategy tastes very bad indeed.