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Posted on by tyler

 

from richard buchanan, in his essay “human dignity and human rights: thoughts on the principles of human-centered design” in looking closer 5. [emphasis mine, by design]

no meaningful community can be sustained (let alone flourish) without radical new commitment to the art of people sharing time to talk

Posted on by tyler

- tony brock a former instructor of mine while in grad school at ncsu, tony constantly questions how we should be educating our students and what constitutes "education". he also questions -- rightly -- what we value as educators and how that reflects/informs our lives more holistically. (re-read quote for reference)
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the sale of rebellion is tantamount to heresy

Posted on by tyler

i recently saw a lecture in which a large design studio showcased a huge range of research and design solutions for converse and "all stars" in particular. it is probably just my personal background and beliefs clouding my judgement, but the more i watched this presentation, the more i because nauseous about the careful scrutiny and subsequent commodification of alternative/youth/creative/rebellious culture. being in the punk/hardcore scene for many years showed me clearly the difference between authentic expressions of an alternative view of society/culture and inauthentic/prepackaged ones. this typically happens in the form that this design studio engaged in -- understand the audience, design some campaign featuring your "solution" that embodies the correct brand attributes which mirror the audience's attitudes, attach it to your product, and sell those attributes/product back to the audience. not cool at all. now as i said before, it may just be my own sensitivity to this issue and others don't find fault with it. in an attempt at objectivity, i asked my wife -- a long-time chuck taylor wearer -- why she repeatedly chose to purchase those shoes.she mentioned first the associations with her youth, which involved punk rock, skateboarding, etc. next she mentioned (correctly) that the shoes have an association with counterculture and she identifies with that, so she continues to signify her cultural associations by wearing those shoes. that's all fine and dandy and i don't have a problem with any of those reasons. i guess it's when the company decides to actively push that angle in trying to sell more shoes that it becomes problematic. the imagery and video i saw in the presentation included a canvas bag with "revolution" stencilled in red on it, guys skateboarding, people playing music shows, raw rock 'n' roll soundtracks, etc, etc. what i think is amusing about the studio's "understanding" of the audience, as thorough as it is, is that anyone that is serious about nearly any of the subjects they tried to associate themselves with, would have a huge problem with the product. any serious skater, except maybe an old school dude, would never skate in chucks these days. anyone serious about social/political activism or revolution would be unlikely to wear chucks because nike owns them, they are not sustainably made, they don't pay their workers a living wage, etc. but maybe that superficial understanding of "rebellion" is exactly what appeals to converse's target market -- those who think they are being rebellious by wearing a particular brand of anything. so what do you think? why do you wear chucks? why not? what do you think of their association with counterculture, whether propagated by culture itself or by designers, marketers and the corporation? is the sale of rebellion tatamount to heresy?
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design: help!?

Posted on by tyler

i recently had a lovely lunch and conversation with my summer intern, logan smith. we were talking about all that dreamy naive stuff that design could do to improve the world and logan mentioned that he wants to use design to help people. a noble cause, and a goal that i share, which i guess explains why we're working together this summer. i got to thinking later on, "what does that mean exactly?", because it can mean really different things to different people. we also have to ask more specifically, "help people do what?" value judgments quickly come into play as to what causes are worthy -- the comprehensive identity design for the third reich helped the nazis effectively add to their ranks, but can also help someone navigate the home ownership process or compare the ecological footprints of competing products.  sure, design can help us select a brand of frozen food, but is that just a rationalization of the profession's status quo? by "help" in that sense, do we really mean "persuade"? and, really, do we need more people to help us with those types of decisions. there are plenty of designers out there ready and willing to shoot sexy food shots and all that, but not that many really willing to take on the thankless tasks of educating or informing in ways that are truly needed or beneficial for society.  but the major point here is that it's up to each individual to determine what causes are worthy of design help, or what audiences are in most need of our help. a few questions may prove helpful in thinking about those issues:  
  • am i helping someone to become more thoughtful?
  • am i helping in their education?
  • am i helping them make better decisions?
  • am i helping increase health, well-being, equality, justice, (insert your preferred value here)?
  what does "design help" look like to you? i'm interested...
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