Some design reflection

I love this lecture by Chip Kidd. I love his zest.

It’s not often that I go to some lecture or forum and not enjoy it a least a little bit. At the very least, I’m content and don’t really regret going even if it’s not the most extraordinarily compelling.  Opportunity cost stuff, you know.

However, last week I went to a two hour creative forum (with an hour of mingle time) and I mostly regret staying. Recently, it’s been the norm for me to see somewhat eccentric, passionate, and energetic people. The two designers they feeatured were…and of course I only saw them for two hours and they probably have a whole different side of them…the stereotypical high-brow design-tools that the media makes fun of. The kind Woody Allen would want nothing to do with. There’s confidence and there’s arrogance. They didn’t feel like any of their clients were capable of being insightful, creative, or understanding their work. That’s no way to be. Everything should inspire and influence you. There are many kind of wonderful design styles that can influence you. There are surprising perspectives that anyone can show you.

They talked about being reductionists. As in, they were able to find the “true essence” of the project and represent it. As in, a lot of white space, short phrases, periods, black type. They describe having a several hour presentation of their work with their clients where one of the partners reads out of a 20-page packet of design justification. Doesn’t that sound horrendous?! They said sometimes their clients don’t understand how amazing their work is so they have to explain it to them. They explain every single thing they did do and explain every single thing they didn’t do. Ugh.

They were the polar opposite of the idealists-we-can-change-the-world designers. They talked about limitations and making sure that their clients stayed grounded. In the way that some people feel the need to justify work that is subjective by making it scientific, they have to justify their art by dragging everything through an arduous process which distances themselves from their clients and audience as superior.

I believe that good design embraces its audience. Clarity and simplicity are not the same thing. There is a way to make meaningful design in varying levels of complexity. I believe that no one should be lectured on why they should or shouldn’t like something. Even if it’s not instantaneous, it should hit them like a ton of bricks.

James Victore described it like this: You want your audience’s reaction to be “Huh? WOW!” not “Wow!…Huh?

Something has to give. And it’s not serifs.

Your Turn: