09
Sep
10

On believing things – and having the courage to say them (or, Why Design Manifestos are a Good Idea)

design manifesto

Something about design – graphic, typographic, product, architectural – brings out the evangelist in people. There are numerous excellent blogs on design; there are (still) innumerable dead tree press magazines; every college, let alone university, worth its salt has some courses which seek to identify and promote good practice.

All too often, though, the focus is on what design is; not what it could be. Evangelising good design is a whole other thing than thinking, deeply, about what it could be.

We like to think about what we do. That’s not just about the selection of the right typeface, or making sure that what our clients are saying to the world is what our clients want to say in a way that their customers want to receive it. But it’s about what we could be doing better, or different, or how radical we can be.

This is not true blue-sky work, of course – we still live in the real, concrete world and have to interact with it – but the determination to think, and hard, about what we do is important. We enforce that importance through our seminar working style; we enforce it too, by taking on bright people to think and study for us. (Lucy Young, who’s with us for a few months, will be doing exactly this for social media – thinking hard, examining deeply, and hopefully producing original and useful work. Look for her updates on this blog.)

So we like what we saw at the Danish Design Centre last month. A design manifesto. On a wall, like all good manifestos should be (or nailed to the door of a high street retail furniture store, perhaps).  The Preconditions for Good Design (on their website at en.ddc.dk) lists ten attributes of good design, which,the Danes being practical, includes “Good Business”.

They’re following a noble path: John Emerson’s excellent post in Social Design Notes of last year lists 100 manifestos (including the DDC one), starting with William Morris’ The Ideal Book in 1883. (backspace.com)

We need more of these. We need more thinking, whether informed by practicality or not, not just about what we do – but what we could do. Look for a little of it here.

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