The David Report writes recently about the dearth of good design, especially noting the Milan Furniture fair, and suggests:
"An adequate question to highlight is if we should call it design, art or design-art or if we have to invent a new category and word for these experiments. Some people call it neo-surrealism or expressionism-design, but we would prefer to refer to it as Vulgarism."
They posit that there is no intellectual base from which the current trends in design can grow. They charge that contemporary designers "are more or less just doing extravagant objects. A kind of design on dope."
Oliver Ike suggests that designers are out to make quick money by being fake artists in their design work. that be dropping the functional aspect of design (a big no-no) they are left with "vulgar pollution" that they sell as art. He also tries to explain under what circumstances design pieces should rightfully be commanding high prices (as objects important to the history of design, not as art objects).
The article includes a great quote from Core 77, “This rising tide of disaffection tends to share two themes: a distaste for the superficiality of design’s media-celebrity nexus; and a growing discomfort with design’s role in generating ’useless stuff’. These two complementary critiques could be abbreviated as Anti-fluff and Anti-stuff.”
Of course there's a few quotes I'm not at ease with like this one, "Likewise we would like to quote a good designer friend of ours who refers to the Vulgarism as design for girl’s magazines (no hard feelings towards girl’s magazines though)…" Nice.
And there's the bits where the authors try to differentiate between artists and designers (quoting the British design council): “Designers, unlike artists, can’t simply follow their creative impulses. They work in a commercial environment which means there is a huge number of considerations influencing the design process. Designers have to ask themselves questions such as: is the product they’re creating really wanted? How is it different from everything else on the market? Does it fulfill a need? Will it cost too much to manufacture? Is it safe?” My instincts tell me this is oversimplified. Design requires so much more than this, and often art demands these questions be answered as well.
Overall, I respect the closing sentiment to the piece, "At David Report we believe in long lasting values as one of the best and most valuable sustainable solutions....We are producing new stuff as if our resources were unlimited. We need to buy less but better products. We need to re-use and re-cycle. The maximalistic work of the Vulgarism is unfortunately something completely different. It’s a blown up bubble of exercise in decoration offering only a hollow shell." I think this outlook is the basis of artwork already (seriously, let that thought roll around a bit), and should be adopted by all designers.
If it's not clear by now, I think art has to be the leader in all of the arenas I've been posting about these last couple of days. Simply put, I don't think money should be the biggest motivator. Maybe that makes me anti-capitalist? I still think the free-market system is okay. I just think, on a personal level, who wants to be the person who values money over everything else in this amazing world? I know we all need a certain amount to live, not contested, but I hope we are talking about after all the basic needs are being met here. I'm sure there will be more posts about this topic, I feel like I am just getting started on something here and I need to develop and refine my thoughts even further, especially in regards to my own work.