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Guest csven

Is Unreasonable Design Arrogance Hurting The Profession?

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Guest csven

@benzo - this is about lack of knowledge as much as it is the apparent lack of interest to gain the knowledge and the potential hesitancy to embrace a technology that - like it or not - will take industrial design from being a cloistered profession to something more on par with graphic design.

 

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@jjdon - I'm not saying anybody can "be a well rounded, mature designer". Saying "everyone can design" doesn't mean they can design well. However, there is reason to believe that when tools migrate to the masses raw talent will emerge; that some will take naturally to the activity and have sufficient talent to operate at a professional level in short order. Dismissing that possibility is where elitism comes into play, and where I take issue with the old guard. Because it's at that point the profession starts looking like the Salon painters of old. And there will be a Salon des Refusés for this profession at some point, just as there was for graphic designers.

 

The question Martin Konrad's comments has me asking is: does the apparent lack of interest in these emerging fabrication technologies, in businesses like Etsy, and in designing for customization (as part of the whole DIY movement) indicate a kind of professional snobbery? The "I make products for lots of people" mass production mindset. Or the "I wouldn't put my designs next to the stuff on Etsy" attitude. Or the "my design shouldn't be modifiable because it can't be improved" assertion.

 

I don't know. I can see it at times because of the "you can't be a designer unless" kinds of comments I hear from other designers. Design as an exclusive club kind of thing. But then I wonder if it's just a lack of curiosity. But that too is alarming to me.

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Guest csven
I'll stick to my point that having access to the technology is killer.
For what it's worth, I don't have access. I didn't have it in school, nor did I have access while corporate. Closest I came was one company bought an SLA and had it running... just as I resigned. In 1999.

 

What I know is what I've taken the time to learn. Believe me, none of my clients could care less about this stuff.

 

The horse and cart analogy is off. That type of shift would be more like ID ignoring the potential of nanotechnology (a topic id love to discuss in another place)
But nanotechnology is a part of this discussion. It's a shorter conceptual step to go from current additive techniques to nano-factories than it is to go from molds to SLA machines.

 

Furthermore, there are a number of related issues, such as the short jump from fabbing weapons to molecular rights management (which has come up again and where I posted a link back to this thread earlier today - see it > here).

 

ID (for want of a better title!) as a profession, is moving away from answering solely to technical & production needs of (product) creation.
The reason I often say "Industrial Design is dead" (in the same sense William Gibson says "The future is already here - it is just unevenly distributed".

 

And finally ! Don't be so quick to judge the young'ns soo to speak - theres alot to take in these days
I'm unsure why people get the impression I'm targeting young designers. I'm not. This applies to all IDers.

 

If anything, I assign the most fault to the older designers because, unlike the newly minted professionals, they're the ones who should be leading this discussion. Many of them are managers, and if they're still managing minor aesthetic details (and we know they are) instead of helping their charges to grow and adapt to a changing profession, they're doing everyone a disservice.

 

Great discussion. Keep it coming.
I'm not talking to myself here. The only thing I'm doing is pushing some buttons.

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Phew what a read. Too me awhile to get through most of it. While this discussion meanders to a lot of things even the definition of ID at one stage the question here still stands out? Why the lack of discussion on RP vs design? The issue here is I think a matter of perspective.

 

To a certain extent it could be a fault of the education, or perhaps the fault of humans, but I'm not looking at blame here. find most of the time RP machines are taught in schools as a tool, or in other words what can we do with such a thing, but in terms of an execution role. It is even thrown into the design process, again as a certain tool to do something. I had the privilege to work in a RP shop for a year, and still this we were using the tool for traditional purposes. What a waste!

 

It really is up to the designer or individual to look past, the function of this object and see what else can it do. Basically, if we can think outside of the box in our work, why cant we do so with our design tools, and I dare say in our own profession?

 

The possibilities are endless really with this tool. We are just holding ourselves back.

 

On the issue of a professional vs. non-professional, we cannot run or hide. The photographer has already suffer this fate. With cheaper digital SLR cameras everybody from Grandma to your neighbor Bob is a photographer. So what happens to the professional photographer? Well for a start, he needs to take his art to the next level.

 

We designers will be no different. We will eventually need to take our art to the next level and become what I call Hyper-Creatives. I've written extensively on the future of industrial design in a world or rapid-prototyping, and personal fabrication on my blog here: http://www.designsojourn.com/2007/06/04/fa...ign-strategies/

 

Check it out and be prepared!

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Guest csven

Porro is not my alt.

 

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@Porro - Question: as a design manager, what impression do you get from the designers working for you? Are they similarly enthusiastic, or do they still think of the tech as just a tool for solving design problems (some of which are doubtlessly inherited when referencing previous design solutions)?

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Guest jjdon

> I'm not saying anybody can "be a well rounded, mature designer". Saying "everyone can design" doesn't mean they can design well. However, there is reason to believe that when tools migrate to the masses raw talent will emerge

 

No, CSVEN, you misunderstood me. I know that you're saying it takes more than simply desire, and I agree. Anybody CAN design a business card.. I think one of the things you're lamenting is plain old snobbery. We call them "Nartists", as in "I'm AnnnnnAautist". To many to this day art/design is seen as a magic - a thing you either have or don't, and you get some who live the fantasy - "I have a power that you can never attain." Phooooey! Talent is good, great ability is good, not everybody is cut out for it, some should be accountants.. The analogy to DTP is a good one though, but I'm not sure that making tools available to the masses is necessarily a bad thing. Bad for the entrenched status quo, sure, but as you say there will be times when raw talent meets tools, and I say good for them......

 

I'm going to add to this something else, too. I forget the guy's name, but as I remember he holds the record for the most individual patents in the world. As I recall he invented the hard drive - he's Japanese. He said that everything has been invented, there's no longer any place for a Thomas Edison. Meaning that the great advances are done in multimillion dollar labs, and the home inventor is largely doing incremental advances - putting a new spin on an existing product. That could be argued with, no doubt, which isn't really the point. The world is big, and yes there are those in every field who have access to tools and can do quite well in their garage. But it will always take a Boeing to make 757's, and an Intel to fabricate chips. I have a highly professional shop in my way - not Intel, but advanced. I'm not nervous about emerging people at all. The world is big.

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Guest csven

@jjdon - you're right. I misunderstood. However, I'm not so much lamenting the snobbery as the potential negative impact it may have on the profession. If arrogance is preventing the adoption of radical technology and curtailing the development of new business opportunities which allow designers to bypass the current system, that's an issue I can't easily ignore.

 

As for "great" vs "incremental" advances, I'd agree it really isn't the point. To be sure, none of the companies for whom I worked were doing research at any lofty level.

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Guest jjdon

>If arrogance is preventing the adoption of radical technology and curtailing the development of new business opportunities which allow designers to bypass the current system, that's an issue I can't easily ignore.

 

Yeah, well, the wheels of progress turn slowly in any field.... It takes a couple of miles for an aircraft carrier to make a U-turn...

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Guest csven
Yeah, well, the wheels of progress turn slowly in any field.... It takes a couple of miles for an aircraft carrier to make a U-turn...

I wasn't aware there was even anyone at the helm.

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Guest jjdon

>I wasn't aware there was even anyone at the helm

 

Sounds like you could use a vacation-----something with umbrella drinks... I'm about the same - a little bored, a little "been there, done that".......

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Guest rnds
I'll go out on a limb and say ID's going through a pretty fundemental change at the moment. Specifically the level of environmental consideration within the design process over the next 5-10 years is going to be huge weather we like it or not - either through progressive companies responding demand from a social change, or through government legislation making products meet hard (in todays context) environmental standards.
This is very true toodef1 ......but it does make me wonder if designers and industry need to pay more consideration to whether the world even needs so many new products. Is it just me, or does anyone else think that some of Martin Konrad Gloeckle's design objects are no more than self-indulgent follies?

 

If the design world really is serious about sustainability and ecological matters, it will start to question itself a little more. Is design making the world a better place or just serving the rampant consumer society?

 

Apart from that, 'design' itself has become an increasingly obvious aspect of everyday life, as I mentioned in another thread, Jasper Morrison thinks the design industry has become a major source of visual pollution. Morrison talks about a new approach to design he calls "Super Normal" http://www.jaspermorrison.com/html/8851725.html

 

The consumer end of the design world has become increasingly irritating to me. In just a couple of weeks the Salone Internazionale del Mobile will be in full swing again, and thousands of us will be swooning over the new products on display -- but the vast majority of them will offer little [if anything] truly new or very inspirational -- the fair has become a grandiose festival of consumerist indulgence ...and design is being used as the method of seduction.

 

Shouldn't design be about much more than just seducing consumers? -- well I certainly think so.

 

Personally, my interests lie at the most theoretical level of the design world. My heroes are people like Alessandro Mendini, Andrea Branzi, and the late Ettore Sottsass ....designers who usually operate in the high-culture realm of ideas and experimentation, less restricted by the usual commercial and industrial constraints. However, even this most aristocratic level of the design world has become more and more consumer-driven in recent years. Design ateliers specializing in rare, limited production "experimental" design have found a new (and lucrative) market among a design-literate (and wealthy) cognoscenti who no longer feel mass-produced objects are prestigious enough ...regardless of who designed them. The line between Art and design has become blurred with objects by designers like Ron Arad and the Campana brothers fetching hundreds of thousands of US dollars at auction. This is driven by a new kind of high-end consumer snobbishness in a world where Tolomeo lamps and a B&B Italia sofas have become middle class status symbols.

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Guest jjdon

>Shouldn't design be about much more than just seducing consumers? -- well I certainly think so.

 

Here in N. Calif., and I'm sure elsewhere, there's a barely-underground movement that recognizes that "buying green" really means not buying. There are groups that exchange used clothing and stuff and count how long they go before buying anything but food and clothing. They're not poor, they just "get it". I'm like that, but just because I'm not into "stuff". There's a posting on this site about a certain misguided product where one critic says that using a supposedly "green" product that actually uses more resources is just buzz-word mentality. I think that as far as the above quote goes, everybody needs to find their niche, and work to their abilities. Most people are NOT the cream, both designers and consumers. Most people WANT a Toyota and a grilled cheese sandwich. High design is great, and the market is great, but small. As I've said, I'm in jewelry - unusual here, I guess, and there are design awards and all just like every field. Most of the pieces, winners or not, go on tour and then get broken up, because nobody buys them - they're not made for real people, they're made for the design competition. And I'm sorry, but wringing hands and saying that the world is dying is not very useful - if you want the world to change, go out and change it. Design that better thing, make the product that sweeps the world. If "nobody's doing any real work" is true, aren't you (we) a part of everybody? I've been watching Dyson vaccuum cleaners on TV for some years - he began as some puny little guy hawking his vacuum, and I've watched him grow into a major success - and good for him. Boring stuff, yes - innovative, David-and-Goliath, gutsy, risk taking - also yes.

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Guest csven

"Design Isn't Dead. Design's Gatekeepers May Be Dying." (Link) - over on Logic+Emotion.

 

Guess who those "gatekeepers" would be?

 

And in Stark's defense, when I posted the link on my reBang Twitter, someone with much better German language skills than I said that the English translation is taken largely out of context. I may make the time to translate it, but for those who can read German or just want the link to the article/interview, here it is: "Ich schäme mich dafür" (Link) on Die Zeit

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Guest rnds

Thanks for the interesting links csven.

 

To be honest, I don't know how seriously I should take Starck's comments, I remember he said a decade ago that he will not design any more chairs ...he obviously got over that little personal crisis.

 

People like Starck are born to be designers/artists. For Starck, design is not a profession, it is his life. He is driven by inspiration, a love of beauty, and the overwhelming desire to create. Most designers do not have the luxury of creative freedom Stark enjoys. There is no doubt about it, Starck is immensely talented; even if much of his work does not appeal to my personal tastes, I certainly admire his skill. For me, his work from the early '80s is his most interesting.

 

A lot comes back to the age old question: What is Good Design?

 

The Bauhaus taught (and many still adhere to the belief) that good design is all about "form follows function" -- but is this really all there is to it? ....of course not!

 

Ever since the dawn of time, human beings have been making things ....and not just purely functional things, but things that are created to be functional and beautiful to. We have an innate desire to create beautiful objects. Perhaps this desire for beauty is even stronger than the desire for functionality in most of us.

 

However, it will always remain that some of us have more natural ability to create objects of beauty (functional or strictly decorative) than others. So I do not think the role of the professional designer is in any danger. The reality is that most people do not have the desire, skills, or inclination to design at the professional level. "Real designers" see inspiration where others do not, "real designers" seek new possibilities and new ways of doing things while others are happy with the status quo. Design is about progress and creativity -- the expression and advancement of human civilization.

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Guest csven
Thanks for the interesting links csven.
My pleasure. Here's another which I'd read but had forgotten: Nussbaum "Philippe Starck And Why There Is A Backlash Against Design And Innovation" (Link). The comments are also worth reading. However, I wanted to point out that "arrogance" is brought up as an issue.

 

The Bauhaus taught (and many still adhere to the belief) that good design is all about "form follows function" -- but is this really all there is to it? ....of course not!
Depends on how you define "function"; it doesn't have to be a severe, Teutonic interpretation. I believe it was Esslinger who said "Form follows fun". Fine. Except "fun" can be a function of a product. That's what toys are all about, after all.

 

If the function isn't to perform a mundane task especially well, but rather to be a sculptural object pretending to be a solution, I'd say Stark's juicer meets the Bauhaus definition. And if he's regretful of his contributions, I'd venture this is partly the reason. From my own experience, I'd say his juicer doesn't function very well as a juicer. Sure, it's a beautiful form and makes a nice conversation piece, but in a world of beautiful forms, it's just another object. Truly successful design solutions accomplish both: they function efficiently and they're beautiful to behold. And increasingly, they are regarded in a much broader context: the Environment.

 

So I do not think the role of the professional designer is in any danger. The reality is that most people do not have the desire, skills, or inclination to design at the professional level.
I don't think all professional designers are in danger; however, I'd say some are. For one thing, the people most often making the choices about what is to be manufactured are not "professional designers". They're C-level executives. Steve Jobs isn't an industrial designer. He doesn't even have a college degree. But from what I've read he's the one who has the final say at Apple. They're just lucky to have someone who understands what good ID can mean to selling product. Most business people don't (even though I bet many of us can tell you stories about the senior marketing guy who really, really wanted to be a designer... so he's going to force his ideas on you). Generally, if they can't directly measure the impact they don't get it. And that's why so very many products on store shelves are crap.

 

Thus, I'd say presuming that all professional designers are safe would be a mistake. And when low-tech products can be fabricated by individuals, believe me, they'll choose their own design (no matter how ugly it is to everyone else) over a professionally designed one. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And these amateurs will find plenty of beauty in their own creations.

 

"Real designers" see inspiration where others do not, "real designers" seek new possibilities and new ways of doing things while others are happy with the status quo. Design is about progress and creativity -- the expression and advancement of human civilization.
Real designers being engineers, yes? or maybe engineer-ID hybrids like myself?

 

How many Industrial Designers are out there now basically making knock-offs of other products, or trying to fit the form language into an established trend (either by choice or by direction)? Don't kid yourself. There aren't that many IDers out there operating at the level you put design. Many are just trying to do what the profession was created to do: make products fabricated through industrial processes more appealing to consumers so that, as my ID Dept chair told us, "people buy stuff they don't need". And considering the number of self-storage facilities I see popping up, they've certainly been doing that.

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