Design Isn’t a Job. Discuss.

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weird, weird weird design, minus capitalism.

weird, weird weird design, minus capitalism. flickr member see-ming lee.

I’m a big fan of Alice Rawsthorn’s thoughtful writing on design; did everyone see this piece she did for the Times yesterday? It’s full of big implications.

She’s discussing a show curated by Ai Weiwei in which designed objects are considered to be the artifact of not necessarily a professional endeavor, a basic human activity (albeit one which has professional practitioners). I’d agree with that assertion, but there are some ramifications to that broadened definition. If we are thought of as something closer to a trade or a human endeavor, then there’s little reason for our costs of education, possibly our costs of association. Wouldn’t you think?

I’ve been eager to see some sort of definition one way or the other—either craft/trade or professional—for a couple of decades now, and this shows some promise. Unfortunately for those designers who consider themselves professionals first and craftsfolk second, it might mean that they lose a little focus in the commercial lens.

This could have some interesting ramifications upon how we educate our next generations of designers, and what they actually learn—it could mean that there would be much less a focus on branding and advertising—very much a twentieth century construction—and more a focus upon creative thinking.