Weeknote 30 – 31
25 April 2020
- Just before London went into lockdown Ella presented a video at the first Curate TV evening. Fun night - sort of like a meetup or something, but watching youtube videos rather than talking which is more my vibe anyway. Hopefully there’ll be more of them after lockdown settles down. If anything there’ll be a few more empty units that need occupying in East London.
- While I was in the neighbourhood dropped into Artwords and picked up the two new dayglo helvetica design books; Full Scale False Scale by Experimental Jetset, and Lou’s Good Services.
- One of the things that (I imagine) make me such a delightful colleague are my endless life-rules for being a professional designer. If you’re looking for inspiration that’ll make your heart soar sorry I got nothing. But if you need a kick up the arse to help you jump the fear and get the job done, well.
- Anyway, there are only two design briefs; 1. selling more stuff, or 2. making the stuff you’re already selling more efficient (ie, cheaper/more profitable).
- Sounds reductive. And it is. But design costs money to implement, and designers don’t (or shouldn’t) work for free. Those costs need to pay for themselves. And that either means helping your client sell more stuff, or helping them reduce costs.
- Prove unquestionably that your design functionaly answers the appropriate brief and you’ll likely get huge amounts of leeway to dick around with the form, whether that’s pushing the limits of technology, engaging with the dialogue, making the world a better place or whatever. Or alternatively wrap it up there and go to the pub.
- The design industry predominantly only talks about the first brief - whether that’s experimental graphics or pricey chairs or whatever James Dyson is selling this week. All the books are about that stuff, and design academia and criticism only ever talk about designed objects as an extension of art criticism.
- Makes sense, it’s where all the cool looking stuff is made (looks great in books and blog posts) and where all the money is spent on press releases (fills the wordcount). But I’d argue most of the interesting important work happens in response to the second brief. Reducing the environmental production footprints, reducing failure demand costs in complex services, that sort of thing.
The International Style.
Full Scale False Scale, Experimental Jetset
- Full Scale False Scale 1 is definitely a book about the first brief. It’s a very long, verbose catalogue of the visual research that Experimental Jetset carried out in preparation for their site-specific installation at MOMA New York. It’s boring, beautiful and so sincere it must be ironic.
- Don’t know how to feel about it, but it must make Michael Beirut angry so maybe that makes it good?
Use computers and humans for what they're good at.
Good Services, Lou Downe
- Good Services 2 is definitely a book about the second brief. Probably the first design book I’ve read since Massive Change that seeks to write about work answering the second brief and smash it into the dialogue which only knows how to talk about the first. But less keynote-y than Massive Changes. More like Elements of Architecture but for services.
- Also, it looks great.
- One of the nice things about being at home is having my books to hand. This week I’ve also been rereading Project Vitra 3, Sanaa Works 4 and Multiple Signatures 5.