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
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.
And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.
Not everything is lost.
”—Naomi Shihab Nye (b. 1952), “Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal.” (via awelltraveledwoman)