Monday, January 5, 2009
'form, meet your old friend function'
As quoted yesterday in the New York Times, 'design tends to thrive in hard times'. Fortunately, design steps up to serve and guide society when things have run amok and indeed, this has historic precedent. While the design community is often critiqued for being aloof, detached and a bit insular, the very heart of design lies in reciprocal dialogue, an exchange relying on accepted forms. Having worked as a graphic designer and educator for many moons, it is notable that design must participate in some accepted language, a common ground if you will, between the public or client and the designer. Arguably, this is the fine line between 'fine art' and what we call 'design'. Its very essence is functionality packaged in a plethora of forms. And the prominent 20th century debate of 'form vs. function' is both symbiotic and turbulent.
The article recalls examples of the late great Eames duo and their coveted chairs made of the stuff of every day industry. It nods toward the mega-design of Ikea and Target, who's goal from day 1 was 'design for all' offering beautiful pieces within reach. It also cites the recent 'giddyness' and pageantry of exhibits light on function during economic booms but offers a sigh of relief that design can save itself during economic woes.
I love this very idea of the potential of design. That it needs to exist within culture and society, it is interwoven and can serve a humanistic or simply human purpose. Some historical examples of graphic designers rising to the occasion here, here and here. A thoughtful lineage we have indeed to consider beauty and utility.
my apologies, not sure where i found this lovely bench image