Many talented young designers today have abandoned their roles as improvers of the general visual environment. Many only want to work on cultural work, or not-for-profit work, or on projects they perceive as “good-for-society” which may have a high profile within the design milieu, but don’t really reach ordinary people. These designers are afraid to get involved in mainstream packaging, promotion or corporate work. They forget that these are the products and messages that most people really encounter in their daily lives, that these products and services are at the heart of the American condition, and that there is responsibility for us as designers, always, to raise the expectation of what design can be. We are responsible for that daily experience. These “ivory tower designers” leave the job to others (ad agencies, schlock shops, etc.) who are simply doing it for the money, and are often cynical about the outcome.
What do you think has perpetuated that pattern?
I think the design community has caused it. The “First Things First” manifesto inspired a lot of young people to move away from corporate branding, advertising, promotion, packaging (except for books and magazines, as if they are somehow more noble). If “responsible” designers who care about society and our environment refuse to work on branding, advertising, promotion and packaging, then just consider, who will? This line of design-thinking has been perpetuated in so many design schools and grad programs and it is perpetuated by the AIGA and other design organizations. It’s easy to inspire young designers this way as it creates a real calling for them: “down with corporate America”, etc.
But, ultimately, it creates a design society
where it is OK for designers to abandon most of American communication. Good God!
Wondering if people get momentarily disillusioned by their profession. More on that later, my thoughts haven’t completely gelled yet.
Playlist // Listening to: Paddling Out . Miike Snow Reading: On the Noodle Road . Jen Lin-Liu