The New Design Landscape

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This is [a digital version of] a printed version of Erwin Slegers' documentary movie "The New Design Landscape" (watch it at: https://vimeo.com/120899089). What does it mean to be a graphic designer in a world in which social, economic and technologic mutations are rapidly and constantly shaping the way people communicate? What is its role in the new society? The questions raised in the video, together with some statements and defined positions, made me think about this remediation: I have transcribed all the content to 'translate' the movie in a booklet. Expanding the time of the fruition and transforming the viewer in a reader, the relationship with the content of the interviews changes completely too. This small booklet is designed to be a tool through which is possible to assimilate better the concepts expressed in the movie, digest them and also criticize them. "Does the discipline of graphic design still exist?". Yes, it does. It is just changing.

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<ul><li><p>THE NEW </p><p>DESIGNLAND-SCAPE </p></li><li><p>THE NEW</p><p>DESIGNLAND-SCAPE</p></li><li><p>CAST Kirsten Algera Jasper Hauser Felix Janssens Dimitri Nieuwenhuizen Jan van Toorn Annelys de Vet</p><p>ASSISTANT DIRECTOR Nikki Brrrmann</p><p>CAMERA/EDITING Jan van den Nieuwenhuijzen</p><p>EDITING/VOICE OVER/COMPOSITION AND DIRECTION Erwin Slegers</p><p>WITH THE COLLABORATION OF Bieneke Bennekers Max Bruinsma Cornelis Bos Raw Color Marcel Feil Hansje van Halem Femke Herregraven Hoaxhoaxhoax Mark Horn Thera Jonker Ymer Marinus Arjen Mulder Dimitri Nieuwenhuizen Henk Slager Peter de Vries Arnoud Warschauer</p><p>ORIGINAL VIDEO AT https://vimeo.com/120899089</p><p>A printed version of Erwin Slegers documentary movie The New Design Landscape</p><p>Designed by Giorgio Ruggeri</p><p>THE NEW</p><p>DESIGNLAND-SCAPE</p></li><li><p>5 Dimitri Nieuwenhuizen It is very important to question everything you say and do. Jan van Toorn The world looks towards us for critical design but I dont believe it. Annoys de Vet I definitely think that design can put the world in motion. Jasper Hauser The designer is not only a person that can solve visual problems but also a person that can solve problems, period. Kirsten Algera Craftsmanship plays an important role in our society. Felix Janssens ...And that is for me the reason that I have nothing to do with the idea and with the term graphic design, because the discipline doesnt exist anymore. </p><p> JvT We try to understand why graphic design is positioned as it is. It has an important role in media that cannot be ignore. It has to do with media landscape that has totally changed, but it also has an important economic com-ponent. In addition to a facilitative component it has a totally different role, and this problem continues to play on. If you look at design theory and you compare that with theory in architecture there is a world of difference...In that sense design has developed. I am current with the developments in the theoretical field because of my experiences in America. It remains an academic, written pursuit...how you can handle something, for example. But when you talk about methodology, strategy, or the processing of making, the sensitive side of it...there is nothing to be found. FJ The biggest change that technology and social media has made is that communication no longer has any form. Where Dick Effers made his impact on the citizens of Amsterdam with a beautifully designed poster inviting them to come to a performance or shop, this is now done with Facebook, Twitter and In-stagram. So the value of a designer is not in the designing of the message, but in the organisation of the message. KA In the past you got a text, a client, you made a book. Now, you are developing for a website, for the internet, for something that goes viral, that has different audiences; that has its own life, and could be changed or copied by someone else. You will be confronted with conditions that are never the same: how are you as designer going to make your point, and how do you frame it? </p><p>What does it mean to be a designer </p><p>in this new reality?</p><p>Com</p><p>mun</p><p>icat</p><p>ion </p><p>chan</p><p>ges </p><p>Gra</p><p>phic</p><p> des</p><p>ign?</p><p>Intr</p><p>oduc</p><p>tion</p></li><li><p>6The New Design Landscape</p><p> AdV In the information era that we are living in I find that the role of an information designer, editor or conductor is more important than ever. In this way the professional field is growing. If we look at the field of graphic design twenty years ago...When I was a student, we were thaught to design the infor-mation, to think about form and typography, we were encouraged to think about form and concept. If I look at the progression now, and what we are doing at the Sandberg Intituut, its not about designing the information, but its about how we deal with information. It means that you have to understand the information and that you have to understand form, the meaning of image, the meaning of propaganda, the meaning of context, and how to interpret it, how to reflect on it. So the focus of designers has shifted, but the field itself has not. FJ The field of design has no limits. Since the introduction of the computer, of social me-dia there are no borders anymore, since the introduction of the 3D printer....Everybody is a designer, from Papanek it is more true than ever. So the design-er doesnt design things anymore but designs conditions: how new things can be made, experiences that can be consumed. DN What I find a very interesting discovery is that the possibilities become broader. We discover different ways of communicating with each other at the same time we search for ways to commu-nicate better with each other. All the new forms have their own limitations. AdV A very nice example of a project, where the designers voice is the starting point is a project, Taxodus, from Femke Herregraven. She had a short residency here at the Zuidas, she was curious about companies that were locat-ed in Zuidas and discovered that there were more companies than buildings. She went to the chamber of commerce and made a telephone book with all the businesses and she discovered that there were many companies with oil in their name, or only numbers; there were man post office box companies. Next, we invited Femke to do a masterclass at the Sandberg and Media Funds and she developed the research further, and in the end she thought of making a game out of it, an online game, Taxodus. The object of the game is to avoid paying taxes worldwide depending on where you place your company, in which country, you have different tax laws. At the end presentation there was someone from Dutch television, they found it so fascinating that they made a program about it. Femke worked together with journalists from the financial newspaper who specialized in offshore practices. The moment the documentary came out and the game came out, it became a media topic how the Dutch law favors big companies who are located here: we realized that the Netherlands is a big tax haven. It was questioned in the parliament, it entered the media and became a topic of public discussion, and it became not only a success for Femke. The convergence of the different research, I think it is an amazing example of how you as a designer can </p><p>Des</p><p>igni</p><p>ng c</p><p>ondi</p><p>tion</p><p>sProject:Ta</p><p>xodus</p></li><li><p>7A printed version</p><p>tell a complex story and how that translates to a very broad audience. FJ I think that designers must be able to create richness in their topics, around certain themes, develop visualizations, raise issues and form connec-tions, and those components...you can work on giving form to the world. If we speak about how we live in the world or we talk about culture or about sustain-ability or healthcare, these are all themes that surround us, those themes are untouched and no one owns them. Those are unique opportunities for designers to work together with other parties, not only clients but also other stakeholders. There is no longer a contrast between commisioner and contractor or producer and consumer. Airbnb would not have got off the ground if they had to wait for a client. No, there were people in this world who wanted to sleep cheaply and were other people who were able to facilitate that using software. And that is the great success of Airbnb that now has, at this moment, more rooms than all the Hilton hotels put together.</p><p>We are standing on the eve of what is perhaps the biggest change yet in the </p><p>discipline of graphic design. We are looking at a new horizon </p><p>where unexpected alliances with other disciplines is of vital importance. Now the questions </p><p>arises, does the discipline of graphic design still exist?</p><p> KA We could say that a graphic designer is a writer, a producer and many other things, but his main tool is still the image, the visual. Thats why its so spe-cial. Its something you can read and has an effect. Graphic designers are aware of that, but cant explain it very well. Neither can clients. So you often end up </p><p>Sha</p><p>ping</p><p> the</p><p> wor</p><p>ld</p></li><li><p>8with a sort of non-conversation, in which designers cant articulate it and clients dont bother asking, for fear of asking a stupid question. JH Theres a reason I set up my own business: its because, especially after leaving the academy, its so difficult to work with clients. They have their own will, their own ideas. I always found that interesting, but difficult. Setting up your own business lets you become your own client, thats probably even more difficult. The closer the client and designer, the better the final result. What works best for me is being your own client, or working very closely with a client: you set out together to discover what youre going to do, why youre doing it, how youre going to do it...the more you work together the better the result. Not all clients are open and flexible enough for that, not all clients even understand it. DN As soon as you start a project you have to ensure youre on an equal footing with your client. Thats a crucial difference with the past, when you were more a servant passively carrying out a clients instructions. There was a dinstiction between working on behalf of a client, expressing his intentions, or conversely offering resistance, almost as a form of protest. AdV If a client says, Thats how I want it, so take it or leave it, the designer should not agree to those conditions. They need to survive of course, but should not abandon the principle of an independent position. Collaborating on those terms is not good for the de-velopment of the design profession or for relationships in society. FJ In this new reality, which already exsists though we still have to disvover it, the client is now a partner. Sometimes you know him, sometimes you dont. I like the example of Bloomber, former mayor of New York. He wanted to get New Yorkers to drink less soft drinks, two-litre glasses of cola were common at McDonalds. To find out who he needed to work with on this health initiative, he did something very clever: he banned the Big Gulp. Next day he knew who to work with: not lower class cola drinkers but cola companies. He met them in court. DN The subject is getting more complex all the time. Liquid modernity, rapid changes in society, technology...keeping up to date isnt easy. All the more important to work together, find forms of collaboration, not just with colleagues but also with clients. You have to become part of your own design office to do that together. AdV Instead of using the word client, I prefer to talk about partners in crime. Its no longer about a client asking a designer to do this or that. Its more about a designer with a signnature, voice and method of their own. Doing things they consider urgent, which lead to new projects, new questions, and much more collaboration based on equality. No longer a hierar-chy in which a client in charge pays and a designer is paid is paid to carry out a job, but much more synergy between who pays, who decides...thats becoming a much more fluid entity today. </p><p>Des</p><p>igne</p><p>r as</p><p> clie</p><p>ntP</p><p>artn</p><p>ers </p><p>in c</p><p>rim</p><p>eN</p><p>ew r</p><p>espo</p><p>nsab</p><p>iliti</p><p>esThe New Design Landscape</p></li><li><p>9Inte</p><p>rdis</p><p>cipl</p><p>inar</p><p>ity</p><p>Design students must also contend with this hybridization of their field of work, in which a diversity of roles has become a </p><p>significant factor. What choices should educators </p><p>make in translating this transformation for students? </p><p>Is that a combination of technical developments and professional </p><p>craft? Or are we moving more towards conditional design?</p><p>And has that taken us to the dawn of fluid design?</p><p> FJ I can state bluntly how Dutch design education should change: no more designer on the teaching staff. To put it more subtly, the curriculum at de-sign schools should be broader, more interdisciplinary. I dont mean interactive, apps, infographics. I mean design with communication, strategy, sociology, busi-ness. Thats the model. KA I always find it difficult to say how education should respond to whats happening, because its like getting the fighter jet were in to fly through a hoop. Where exactly is the hoop? And how big is it? Thats so diffi-cult to say because things move so fast. But its vital for people in education to reflect of this issue. JvT Worldwide, China for example, in places other than the Netherlands, even in Belgium, they take initiatives where they are much more </p><p>A printed version</p></li><li><p>10</p><p>concious about the quality of the exchange of knowledge and research, practical and theoretical, and the connection between those. This is something that is very necessary. DN Policy makers play a key role in shaping the education system. They need to look more closely at reality on the ground among students, and especially among teachers at the workplace. If you dont allow them to renew education, the whole system could implode and students will ultimately view ed-ucation as totally superfluous, because it no longer teaches you who to become but just a method. It doesnt help you find your place in society, shaping things with other people. KA A good place where students can learn and reflect on their position, is less of a traditional school and more of a laboratory setting. Its very important for schools work together with clients and partners. Not in the sense of you name it, we do it, but in doing research that is relevant for clients. What use is graphic design to them? How could they use it in new ways? FJ My advice about preparing students for the context that already exists out there is to bring them into contact with social reality. Offer them a much broader range of sub-jects, earlier and longer internships, not with tiny design offices on the fringes but with bigger offices...it doesnt matter whether its with an app developer, an office like ours or in another country. Students need earlier and better contact with the social reality out there. KA Students still receive too much traditional, top-down education. It could be more bottom-up, organized by students themselves. We need more multi-disciplinary education, learning to work with other disciplines, to com-bine distribution channels. Students need to learn to reflect critically. DN It starts with opening up the compartmentalized method of education, learning needs more of a laboratory environment linked to practice. Various disciplines ex-perimenting together, discovering how to make the things that will determine design for the coming decades. All the schools should look and learn from one another. Together they should shape a way of learning that goes beyond catego-ries like theory and design. What new professions will emerge? How should we define them? Designer of the future? Visionary of the future? Philosopher of the future? Thats not so important, we can decide that later. FJ Design schools should focus much more on knowledge and cognitive skills. You see too many deaf-and-dumb designers who are excellent at one thing, but very bad at everything else. KA Design education should think about the right environment that allows students to think about their changing role and their changing profession. Education is a slow-moving entity that hasnt changed much s...</p></li></ul>