25 February 2010

If Danish designers can do it, why can't we? I appreciate this document for the way it:

1) advocates a collective voice
2) provides objectives and recommendations
3) postures what design can do, rather than what design is
4) determines that design is for people and the planet
5) encourages cross-disciplinary support

And then some.

While manifestos often have a way of making a declaration without encouraging action, I read this document and feel like it gives me language to dialogue about the role of design at this time in history (and makes it accessible by collecting it into one document). Also notable? When I got the email inviting me to read this , it included this phrase at the end (from Pernille Grønbech, President of Danish Designers): We appreciate any comments. Feedback on how these ideas actually translate? What a concept.

24 February 2010

I have the physical cards already but an iPhone app (for travel and the like) is just what this designer needed. What I appreciate about both versions? The special note to respect your participants:

  • Approach people with courtesy  
  • Identify yourself, your intent, and what you are looking for  
  • Offer to compensate participants 
  • Describe how you will use this information and why it's valuable
  • Get permission to use the information and any photos or videos you take
  • Keep all the information you gather confidential
  • Let people know they can decline to answer questions or stop participating at any time 
  • Maintain a nonjudgmental, relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere

22 February 2010

It's time to be a entrepreneur
A few weeks ago I attended the Graphex 2010 Judges Night. A diverse and talented group (Mark Randall, Louise Fili, Julia Hoffmann, Matt Warburton and Rolando Diep) presented their work and ideas about design over the course of the evening. And as I listened during the Q&A time and had conversations with various colleagues, I realized that the diversity of the judges equaled the diversity of thought around the role of visual communication.

From a small studio to the large corporate giant, one has the potential to embrace craft and/or commerce. Whatever side you lean toward, the point is to make information accessible to others. But if it doesn't win an award, how do we measure the value of communication design?

If you check out who I follow on Twitter, you'll notice I'm as intrigued by letterforms as I am lifesaving tools for someone in Los Angeles or Liberia. Because there is such diversity in how design is valued or measured, I'm suggesting that perhaps we now live in a time where we need a new title for the role that a communication designer (or any designer, for that matter) plays in culture (especially those who may never show his or her work at a design award event).

I'm opting to use the title "design entrepreneur" because this seems to help me frame the current state: consider what is needed in the future, act on what the system can handle now and do both all the while knowing that you're going to assume responsibility for the risks involved. According to research, it seems there are some are up for this challenge - and I'd say, it's come at just the right time. While it may not win an award, it could affect the way society functions (and I think Paula Scher might agree?). Some are even willing to fund it: Be Unreasonable.

14 February 2010

The last time you made something, did you ask 78 questions about it? With that many to go through, one can't help but pause and consider the impacts of design.

78 Reasonable Questions to Ask about Any Design
by Stephanie Mills

1. What are its effects on the health of the planet and of the person?
2. Does it preserve or destroy biodiversity?
3. Does it preserve or reduce ecosystem integrity?
4. What are its effects on the land?
5. What are its effects on wildlife?
6. How much and what kind of waste does it generate?
7. Does it incorporate the principles of ecological design?
8. Does it break the bond of renewal between humans and nature?
9. Does it preserve or reduce cultural biodiversity?
10. What is the totality of its effects - it's "ecology"?

11. Does it serve community?
12. Does it empower community members?
13. How does it affect our perception of our needs?
14. Is it consistent with the creation of a communal, human economy?
15. What are its effects on relationships?
16. Does it undermine conviviality?
17. Does it undermine traditional forms of community?
18. How does it affect our way of seeing and experiencing the world?
19. Does it foster a diversity of forms of knowledge?
20. Does it build on, or contribute to, the renewal of traditional forms of knowledge?
21. Does it serve to commodify knowledge or relationships?
22. To what extent does it redefine reality?
23. Does it to raise a sense of time and history?
24. What is its potential to become addictive?


25. What values does its use foster?
26. What is gained by its use?
27. What are its effects beyond its ability to the individual?
28. What is lost in using it?
29. What are its effects on the least person in the society?

30. Is it ugly?
31. Does cause ugliness?
32. What noise does it make?
33. What pace does it set?
34. How does it affect quality of life (as distinct from standard of living)?

35. What does it make?
36. Who does it benefit?
37. What is its purpose?
38. Where was produced?
39. Where is it used?
40. Where must go when it's broken or obsolete?
41. How expensive is it?
42. Can it be repaired? By an ordinary person?
43. What is the entirety of its cost-the full cost accounting?


44. How complicated is it?
45. What does it allow us to ignore?
46. To what extent does it distance agents from effect?
47. Can we assume personal, or communal, responsibility for its effects?
48. Can its effects be directly apprehended?
49. What ancillary technologies does it require?
50. What behavior might it make possible in the future?
51. What other technologies might it make possible?
52. Does it alter our sense of time and relationships in ways conducive to nihilism?


53. What is its impact on craft?
54. Does it reduce, deaden, or enhance human creativity?
55. Is it the least imposing technology available for the task?
56. Does it replace, or does it aid, human hands and human beings?
57. Can it be responsive to organic circumstance?
58. Does it depress or enhance the quality of goods?
59. Does it depress or enhance the meaning of work?


60. What is its mystique?
61. Does it concentrate or equalize power?
62. Does it require, or institute, a knowledge elite?
63. Is it totalitarian?
64. Does it require a bureaucracy for its perpetuation?
65. What legal empowerments does it require?
66. Does it undermine traditional moral authority?
67. Does it require military defense?
68. Does it enhance, or serve, military purposes?
69. How does it affect warfare?
70. Does it foster a mass thinking or behavior?
71. Is it consistent with the creation of global economy?
72. Does it empower transnational corporations?
73. What kind of capital does it require?


74. What aspect of the inner self does it reflect?
75. Does it express love?
76. Does it express rage?
77. What aspect of our past does it reflect?
78. Does it reflect cynical or linear thinking?

Image source: askascientist.org

03 February 2010

The Pie Lab isn't a new concept but another reminder of how people are continuing to dialogue through design.

01 February 2010

Another round of introductory typography means another set of journals. This class did not disappoint with their varied explorations (from hand-rendered, to stitched or embossed and collages). It's always delightful to see people come to a new understanding of and appreciation for effective communication. But I also just love the way it let's them explore their own creativity.