Illustration by Admin I
Questioning “Graphic” Design 03
Today, if there is something that needs to be designed, it is the designer himself. Daniël van der Velden
By Admin I: After a first post announcing that ‘Graphic Design is DEAD’ and a second one concluding that ‘It never existed in the first place’, here we go again and this time questioning the main definitions of Graphic Design, the ones your teachers try to challenge you with or when they flex their intellectual muscles trying to brainwash you through a set of well polished sentences, you know, the ones dealing with designers being problem solvers, social developers emerging from a need, bla bla bla wrapping it up with something similar to rocket science.
Few days ago, I came across one of the most interesting essays I’ve ever read, analyzing and somehow answering those questions: ‘Research & Destroy, Graphic Design as Investigation‘ by Daniel van der Velden, a researcher/designer and thank god not labeling himself as a ‘design thinker’.
It’s kind of bad I extracted almost all the article, but it’s a must to share this point of view with you guys simply because some design practices are totally crossing boundaries and flattening a rich field that stopped growing due to the lack of research and development, especially in design education where even vocab stops in the 90s, when ‘visual communication’ was the word, erroneously substituted later on by ‘problem solving’ to reach a stage of total chaos stimulating the questions below:
Does your desire for Dior shoes, Comme des Garçons clothes, an Apple iPod and a Nespresso machine come from need? Is design necessary?
”We no longer have any desire for design that is driven by need, says van der Velden Something less prestigious than a ‘designed’ object can do the same thing for less money. The Porsche Cayenne brings you home, but any car will do the same thing, certainly less expensively and probably just as quickly. But who remembers the first book, the first table, the first house, the first airplane?
Invention and a design represent different stages of a technological development, but unfortunately, these concepts are being confused with one another.
Many designers still use the term ‘problem-solving’ as a non-defined description of their task. But what is in fact the problem? Is it scientific? Is it social? Is it aesthetic? Is the problem the list of prerequisites? Or is the problem the fact that there is no problem?
Design is added value. En masse, designers throw themselves into desires instead of needs. There is nothing wrong with admitting as much. Konstantin Grcic, Rodolfo Dordoni and Philippe Starck are found in Wallpaper boutiques, not in Aldi supermarkets.
Is a designer someone who thinks up ideas, designs, produces and sells, or someone who holds a mouse and drags objects across a computer screen?
Anyone can call himself a designer. It is something else. The title of ‘designer’ is not specifically defined, but negatively defined. The title of designer exists by way of what it excludes.
Designers have an enormous vocabulary at their disposal, all to describe what they are not, what they do not do and what they cannot do.
Graphic design is still not developing a vocabulary, and hence has not begun developing an itinerary to deepen a profession that has indeed now been around for a while.
Do not let designers just become walking encyclopaedias, adorned with such titles as ‘master’, ‘doctor’ or ‘professor’, their qualifications dependent on a framed certificate hanging on the wall. Let there be a design practice in which the hypothesis – the proposal – has higher esteem than need and justification.
The designer must use his freedom, for once, not to design something else, but to redesign himself.”
Okay Take a deep breath and don’t panic, it’s not just dead, it’s too dead to resurrect!
Being a designer in a field where everything, and I really mean everything starting from its core definition, is still vaguely perceived, makes you wonder about the goal of your career.
Here, a Graphic designer is someone who pukes logos, visuals, prints, advertisements, copywriting, annual reports and so much more, but DESIGN remains excluded.
We do not design! We just create aesthetically pleasant visuals and the rest is just pretentious buzz around the couple of cliché books we’ve read just to prove that we don’t go to Virgin just to buy ‘Vogue’, or ‘why men marry bitches’. It is because we’re not growing, not really caring to grow beyond the Lebanese elite lifestyle or the hipster false claim, that we became design receptors, communicating nothing but crap!