Articles & Design Issues

This morning I went through the booklet given to us and three articles really stood out to me.
Firstly Ellen Lupton’s “Designer as producer”. This article spoke about how the role of the designer has changed, it has changed from being a person who would just format and stylise another persons content, to someone who now creates the content as well as the design/product. Designers now ( as well as those in the Avant-Garde period) use manufacture as part of something that embeds meaning and assists the content of an item rather than just a neutral process. However by being the producer you can’t just choose anything for the content, such as politics etc. Choosing the right means of production and distribution will add value to the content.

The producer/designer must consider all parts of the process, starting with the content, who will read it? Will there be text and pictures? etc. I feel as a studying designer that this idea of considering all parts of the process and using meaningful manufacture to the content has been reinforced in every project and crit, so I don’t feel like this anything new (but the article was written in 1998… so perhaps aesthetics was more important at the time) From this article I feel that as a designer seeing the project through from designing and manufacture you then have complete ownership of the item.

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The second article that I found interesting and I would say more relevant to my context subject as well as my interests is Anthony Froshaug, “Design is an exercise in analogy”, he bring up the ideas that all designers face for example having an idea and then trying to use somebody else’s aesthetics to try and fit their meaning, because it looks “good”. So then as a designer to how do we visualise our ideas, as he said “dress them”. The article makes me feel that there is some kind of basic process that designers go through, for example understanding your subject completely aids you in making informed decisions about how to make it look (conscious design decisions and no styling).

But this then brings up another issue, we have a set of elements, things that will work and connected to our piece but how do we select from them? and then how do we arrange them? an arrangement that is visually appealing or as he says that “thrills”. From this I feel that the selection part is what makes a designer perhaps different from an artist, it is someone who can edit, someone who understands that what is left out is just as important as what is left in. Finally an interesting point that he makes is that before we understand all this process we should really question how we look/perceive and what our text says and what we want to communicate before we translate this into visuals. – Meaningful “dressing” of ideas.

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Finally Dan Saffer’s book review of “Design-Driven Innovation”, this article isn’t as directly connected with the other two but I feel that it taps into the idea of this pop-up shop. The ideas surrounding what people want verse what people need as well as playing with issues of consumerism. As a designer I think it’s really important to think about the products/services/issues you are designing for especially ethically, do people really want these things and morally is the thing good as in environmentally, socially, culturally etc? (Is the thing for good).

I though an interesting thing he said was “People do not buy products…but meanings”, this raises the question, what do people buy things for? To show wealth? For status? To learn? etc So in my project what meaning do I want the buyer to get, what do I want them to take away with them other than the physical piece? Finally the idea that you can change something visually but render the same meaning – FUNCTION FOLLOWS MEANING and this connects with Anthony Froshaug ideas about positioning elements, when there are so many answers (?)

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