“Designers are artists of real issues. We are not creating art by any means, art is a selfish act and design is a social act.” -unknown.
I’ve been contemplating this quote for quite a while. When I first read it, I was a bit put off. I make my living by design, and there’s always been a part of me that has sought to incorporate art into my design work.
Lately I’ve been seeing examples of big design fail. Stunning interpretations of everyday objects and structures that just don’t work. Bottle openers that don’t open bottles, glasses that you can’t drink out of. Chairs that you can’t sit in, and something that irritates almost everyone, tech gadgets that don’t do tech. As I’ve paid more attention to form and function, the quote above becomes more clear and true.
As a designer, I am always called upon to solve a problem. Sometimes, the problem is easy to see. When I design a trade show booth, I have to cut through the noise of the show and use the 2 or less seconds I have to catch attention as people walk by the booth. Some of the other problems are nuts and bolts type. The booth has to fit and fill the space, it has to be easy to set up, broken down, stored, and transported. Cabinets for storage, lighting positions, guest comfort, these are issues that conscientious designers face on almost every exhibit/trade show booth project.
Solving problems, I think, is the element that separates design from art. When I use my camera to capture light, I’m not trying to solve a problem, I’m creating something for the sake of creating (the selfish act) doing it just for me, just because I like it. When I’m designing a restaurant, a set for a TV commercial, or a play, I’m solving problems in the best, most attractive way possible. In broadcast, commercial interior and theatre design, I’m always selling something (the social act). So, in my field, my design has to stimulate commerce, be affordable, portable, storable, and cleanable.
So, what’s this I see? I stumbled upon a design for a retail space in the Meat Packing District, a clothing store for men and women called OWEN. Now, before I comment on one of the design elements that irritates me, I think the OWEN concept is cool. A designer who is willing to go the independent route of curating the work of up and coming designers in highly competitive worlds of both retail and fashion is good in my book, and I wish him all the success in the world.
BUT, I have a problem with a design element of this space. The architect stapled 25,000 brown bags to the walls and ceiling, creating a honeycomb effect. Yeah, that’s really cool, right? The artist in me says oh yes. Fun, fun, fun, great texture, neutral background to pop all those hot clothes. The designer in me sees problems. Problems made, not solved.
Where are you on this? More left brained or right brained? What do you see? Art? Design? good? bad? indifferent? I’ll start. How the heck do you clean this stuff?