Design’s Fall from Grace

Towards the end of this past year I traded emails with PSFK’s Piers Fawkes regarding a comment I made on a couple of the video predictions submitted and posted on the PSFK site (Link). The videos were posted by – what seem to me to be – wide-eyed design graduates who have recently joined the professional ranks and have the kind of optimism I expect from a young graduate. Only what I heard (mostly in the first video) was a regurgitation of the Design Hype I’d been speaking out against for over a year (most notably in my one-sided sparring with BusinessWeek’s Bruce Nussbaum – reLink1, reLink 2, reLink 3, reLink 4, reLink 5, reLink 6, reLink 7, reLink 8, reLink 9)

On that PSFK post I commented:

As a designer who has heard this all before (remember how Design was supposed to have entered the mainstream in the 80’s… and then it all faded away to be repeated not once but twice since then?), I can only feel sympathy for those young designers who aren’t aware that this is not the first time and it probably won’t be the last. And the people spinning the story the hardest now are often the same ones who were spinning it back then. History repeats. I wonder if the flavor of KoolAid is the same?

Well, Core77 is now running an article called “Beware the Backlash: A rising tide of disaffection towards design” (Link). From the piece:

Stephen Bayley, a design critic and the first director of London’s Design Museum, lodges an altogether more substantial critique. He bemoans design’s fall from grace, which he paints as “a rapid descent from saint to sinner, from ennobling industrial art to the silly designer chair.” He pines for a bygone era when design stood for “intelligence made visible,” instead of today’s “attention-seeking frivolity.”

Amen, brother.

I won’t post any more clips because the whole piece is worth reading. If you’re an Industrial Designer, especially a recent graduate, make the time.

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