Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Design Anarchy

Designers are to our information age what engineers were to the age of steam, what scientists were to the age of reason. They set the mood of the mental environment - the look and lure of magazines, the tone and pull of TV, the give-and-take of the Net. They create the envy and desire that fuels the economy and the cynicism that underlies our postmodern condition.
But the most exciting thing about design today is not the digital pyrotechnics, the exploding, mutating forms - the wild anarchy of it all. It's the politics. More than any other profession, design stands in the crossfire of competing worldviews: modern vs. postmodern, commercial vs. uncommercial, Planet Earth vs. Planet Inc. Whether designers acknowledge it or not, their profession is one of the key sites of struggle over the production and distribution of meaning.
Many designers refuse to believe it. They went to design schools that taught them to be "professionals" whose job was simply to serve the "communication needs" of their clients. They were trained to distance themselves from the ethical and political values that underlie their work. Generations of designers learned to put their personal feelings aside and just deliver "design solutions."
Critic Katherine McCoy likens this attitude to that of prostitutes, practitioners of the so-called oldest profession, who "must maintain an extreme of cool objectivity about the most intimate of human activities, disciplining their personal responses to deliver an impartial and consistent product to their clients."
Pity the high-powered, market-driven, modern designers. They're well paid for their commercial sex but passion eludes them.

This seems like a pretty drastic view although I do like how Lasn summarises with the last line which is a pretty good metaphor with designers with no conscience.

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