Sunday, April 25, 2010

Your turn #12

 New Acropolis Museum, by Bernard Tschumi (Athens, Greece).

As you've sen, design is an important medium of communication which expresses the values of the system within which it functions. Design inevitably perpetuates the ideology of the system it serves. In the 21st century the system is represented by the capitalist economic framework of mass production and mass consumption. This is less a result of design's intrinsic characteristics than of its necessary rapport with the cultural system that sustains it.

What's your thought? This is the last assignment for comments. Go ahead!


Gloria A. Lastres said...

I agree that the prevailing capitalist ideology propels design toward creation of the “more is more” mentality in the U.S. and other first world nations. Seeing a new iPhone released every 12 months saddens me to see my fellow man consider a year old product obsolete. I’m not immune to technology – I really like my Mac desktop & laptop, but come on every year? Thankfully there are designers who design “green” and not just for the environmental brownie points. There is an underlying philosophy to everything they do that speaks to making our world a better place, or at the very least not leaving it worse for the wear. We are taught if you can afford it – buy it & if you can’t – still buy it, with plastic.

Lynelle Cameron the Director of Sustainability’s words truly resonated with me. She’s been in the “green” architectural world for over 15 years. Her notion of ultimate success in her field is the elimination of positions, like hers, delineated as “green”. She hopes for a near future when it is the norm to design by taking care of the environment, both short & long-term.

A visit or two to a lower socio-economic non-tourist embellished part of the world, and it hits home the abundance of what we have here and how much responsibility we have as a people, to take care of our own planet so it’s still around and in good shape for us, our kids, grandkids – for everyone who is so fortunate as to reap the natural & designers’ bounty in the USA.

-Gloria Lastres

AlliHeathe said...

I feel that mass consumption and production has reduced the value of each piece of graphic design and the designer. When the same label can be duplicated thousands of times after one designer spent months finding the perfect font, image, and color scheme, it loses its ability to be conceived as art. Design is supposedly art, as my graduating degree will state, however, how can something that is reduced to a mere duplication be viewed as artwork? We as designers would like to believe that each piece of work is art, not solely the completion of an assigned task. However, modern capitalist society clearly provides the opposite designation.

Allison Brown, ARH346

Kendra said...

I agree with the previous posters in that our current society forces design to conform to its model of mass consumption. Reform needs to be made in some way to promote a simpler way of living. I think a major shift in values and philosophy is order, before our society is willing to give up or reduce plastics, Walmarts, fast food and other relics of our consumptive culture.

We need to somehow remind ourselves that ideas, people, relationships, our environment on a large and small scale, etc., are far more valuable than shopping compulsively and wasting non-renewable resources. Most of us know but do not consciously accept that our actions affect humanity and the environment in negative ways.

In the meantime, I think design can help promote a new way of thinking and social reform, in subtle ways. I don't believe that the disposability of design necessarily cheapens it either-- designers can work with the cultural environment that they live in to promote what they believe in, by making the right choices in their design, choosing who they work with and living what they believe.


RAFAELLA said...

ARH 346-
All the videos we watched in class were very informing and very interesting, I learned a lot for sure. It is very true that our society is responsible for mass consumption and therefore mass waste and trash. Efforts to be green have promoted a better way of living, but most people don’t think about where their trash goes and how it affects other people as well as the environment. As shown in the video, where kids and adults in places such as China, India, and Nigeria, attempt to clean their environment and recycle the leftovers of computers, phones and other technological equipments of the U.S. It is very polluting and environmentally dangerous, these people are in contact with toxins that come from traffic of developed nations such as U.S and Europe. It is incredible to know that in China, 80% of all industries deal with recycling the toxic trash that comes from where WE are living. The economy of the town, is to clean up after our trash.
I think innovative design can help promote a new way of thinking, by working and promoting a better environment for the next generation. Afterall, art does deal with problems in society such as pollution, overconsumption, waste, poverty, and promotes social consciousness. Through environmental design, designers can bring awareness about what our actions are doing to the world, and the benefits of recycling. They can also design products that are environmentally conscious, such as new sources of energy, sustainable green friendly buildings, less polluting cars, and forms of cooking, and so on.

Rafaella Medeiros

nasha89 said...

I definitely liked looking at the different ways in which architects bring to life, not only great design in the sense of aesthetics, but also great design in function and sustainability. I have been surrounded by both discussion of building design and structures as well as the idea of a sustainable structure due to the fact that my sister and best friend are both heavily involved in the two concepts. My best friend is an architect and my sister works with buildings and is studying to put sustainability to use. Not only do I think this is a great step for the environment, but also a great step for design as a whole. Because now designers are given new challenges and obstacles to overcome and endure. They are given a new way to express and change things up a bit. New avenues and channels for being creative and innovative.

I loved the video you showed us about the woman who works in building sustainable structures. What stuck out to me the most was when she said that her ultimate goal in life is to see the day when her job position was no longer necessary because every building would be constructed to be sustainable. I though that showed not only the honestly in her cause, but also the gravity to which she would wish it to become a reality.

Nasha Wallin

pedroiscool said...

Design is naturally creative, original, and spontaneous. But much of design we see today is the same we have seen before.

People as a culture want to fit in, want to be part of a whole; a conglomerate, so design by nature has grown to fill the need of everything the same. And its not that innovative design isnt being thought up and created; its just not being rewarded. Big companies who produce the same drab year after year are what the general public spends their money on; hence rewarding them, but newcomers and revolutionaries usually see weak sales (excluding anything apple).

I would really like to see companies like Unilever; which produce anything and everything from deodorant to cereal to prescription medication to linen simply fall apart. I am sure that the fragmentation of these conglomerations would lead to more creativity in each department as they adjust and try to still remain relevant (monetarily speaking).

But most people are fine with the same crap they always been served; so that probably wont happen.

Ping said...

Nowadays American culture is manipulated by franchises and corporations. Every instant we are faced with and controlled by the commercialization of society and mass advertising media. Just take a look at Tuesday's Goldman Sachs hearing! Most corporations prioritize profit and focus solely on their revenue, ignoring humanitarian goals or ecologically sensitive issues. In turn, we consumers bear a great responsibility for the problem too. We desire and acquire what's being sold to us (whether it's fast food, junk bonds, or trashy TV) in much greater quantities than we need for survival or other justified purposes. In addition we have come to use our buying power to measure our value and self-worth.

Amoral media advertising sells an empty shell, a fraudulent illusion, shilling cheap imitations or substitutes instead of quality products.

But as designers, an ethical core is imperative in our work. We must deliver our representations of what society is and can be with honesty and integrity.

Sau Ping Choi

Jeffrey Stern said...

Wake up and smell the system. It is capitalist. The capitalist endeavor supports technology. Technology collides with art. Sometimes they work together to create meaningful advances, the MRI machine, Mars explorer, and sometimes it creates the Hummer or Coco Puffs. If you believe in the free market then you have to allow products to succeed or fail on their own merits or lack of. If people / corporations are not altruistic then the market also allows for those who choose, Ad Busters, to speak out and expose the worst of the system. We also rely on our government, through legislation to protect us. Cities in China and India are not poisoning themselves processing our electronic refuse because it’s a fun job. They are thrilled to have a job and to be making the pennies it pays and their governments are not interested, willing or in a position to protect their citizens from doing so. The West went through its industrial expansion in the last century, poisoning workers in factories and mills, employing child labor and paying pennies for the work. Should we with this experience refuse to allow this to transpire in other countries. That would be nice and idealistic. If we had to pay the cost of the safe disposal of these wastes we would do it our selves and China and India would lose that work. I’m sure there’s a middle ground. There usually is. Cities have been trying to pass laws that would force electronic manufacturers to provide proper recycling options for their discarded products. Not surprisingly these companies have fought off these regulations. But they will be passed. The economics will change and allow for the integration of this part of the process into the system. Design as message is not an end but a means to an end. How it is used is up to us. And like people that use comes in all varieties.

silentmonk said...

What is it with america being the world "super-power" for the past 50 years feels that what we do isnt felt around the world, we may live a world away from the countries that we export most of our garbage to, but just because there is distance between countries does not mean that we do not in habit the same planet.

the urban sprawl that started in the 50's after the war with the "american dream" of owning a home with a front yard and backyard away from the city with all its crime, created the destruction of the land that surrounds many cities, with more home being built farther and farther away from the center we greatly rely on cars to get anywhere. We see this car cultural greatly in miami, everything center is spread out , i see this easily since i dont own a car and rely on the poor city transportation to get anywhere. what can be done to create a new paradigm to change this car cultural that hasnt prove to help us in the long run as we once thought. sure we need car tyo travel long distances, but far to many people wake up only to get into a car and sit for an 1 to get to work to sit for 8 hrs and drive home sitting in for another hr, we want to live healthy lives but america spends too much time sitting down, we need to create more centralized cities that relies less on cra and more on great transportation.

in a world where technology is becoming obsolete every 6 months how can we use the products that we throw away into something that is recycle to create the next branch of technology?

Luly said...

We are the generation of mass consumption and production. My parents saw Neil Armstrong land on the moon in their living rooms, and me? I saw technology evolve. I've seen the internet come alive, phones and computers turn into full hands-on experiences, cars that start with a push of a button, 3D televisions, and I'm only 24.

It's become so easy for us to reproduce anything. In fashion, for example, if there's a pattern a designer likes he/she can send the pattern to the sewing machine via computer, and within minutes the pattern will be sewed onto the fabric. Honestly, I see this whole concept of mass production as a challenge when I produce designs. The challenge being originality.

Lisa said...

The modern world’s design processes reflect our cultural values in that newer, cooler, younger products are being touted as ‘better’. Every year new models of products are released to the public, and from that point, any previous version is an “old model”. There is a fear of aging and being outdated that powers this process, which is a sad… there may be nothing wrong with a previous model, but the need to be updated overpowers reasoning sometimes.

There’s “old” fashion, “old” technology, and “old” values… everything becomes outdated and inferior as time goes on. There is a stigma against aging in our consumer culture, and it has spread to altering ourselves, too, like using plastic surgery or other cosmetic procedures to fight aging. I don’t know why this age stigma even exists in our modern world. The Earth isn’t young, but it’s still beautiful. Our fear of aging is harming the health and beauty of nature, and in turn we are hurting our own health with all our pollution. We need to break this cycle to see any significant progress.

Lisa Joseph, ARH346

Anonymous said...

It seems a little psychitzophrenic to me that throughout the semester you have give examples of design movements, such as Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau, that were reactions to mainstream culture, and now you insist that "design inevitably perpetuates the ideology it serves."

Last week you seemed to lay responsibility for all that's wrong with design at the feet of students who have yet to get out into the world. Is it that you believe that designers today cannot invent an alternative movement? Or perhaps your last presentation was a kick in the butt invitation to pursue discovery towards that end.

Design will continue to change.
Even capitalism will continue change.
Ojal√° que todo vaya bien.
Best wishes to the next generation of designers.


cbfelder said...

I agree with this week's topic of mass consumption/consumerism driving the contemporary role in design. I question the likelihood of anything being done to change it until culture itself shifts, since, as was eluded to in the original post, design "inevitably perpetuates the ideology of the system it serves." There is however, something of a loophole in which 21st century design (being both a medium of art and communication) has the power to influence society.

While the idea of design alone shifting society out of it's consumer-driven culture is a bit naive, one cannot overlook the unique position that post-capitalist-mutated design holds. The most noteworthy being OMNIPRESENCE.
Advertisement has become one of design's primary functions, thus it's accessibility and potential for influence is greater than it has ever been. While currently saturated with shallow, corporate "De$ign," organizations such as ad busters show the as-of-yet unharnessed potential for good this medium has.

The potential for a cultural shift's greatest challenge however, is that ultimately the market speaks loudest, and any positive influence gained by design will only be because it is profitable (the Green Movement) and for design to critique that system it must be subtle (sneaky) and clever.
It has to start with the designer realizing the power of influence they hold and treating it with a greater sense of responsibility (designing with a conscience) This subject has been a familiar one throughout the semester, and it is through that process that I believe design could help nudge society out of it's consumeristic vices.

Sarah said...

I think design has become all about functionality rather than beauty. For instance take a look at architecture. Architecture used to be about beautiful ornate columns and inspiring structures such as Notre Dame, Grand Central Station or the Coliseum.

But, architecture today has become all about function. It’s not to say that there are not some beautiful buildings today, but the majority of them are built as fast as possible, with little or no originality to them. If one takes a drive down Brickell Avenue in downtown Miami, they will see condo/office building, after condo/office building after condo/office building. And all of the buildings look quite similar…like a huge rectangular shaped box. Why? Because, these simple, yet large boxes, make more economic sense to create than beautiful structures such as Grand Central Station. It’s cheaper to create a 60-70 story building with hundreds of cubicles on each floor and cram as many employees in it as possible, then a smaller building that has aesthetic appeal, but does not have functionality. It’s more economical to have a condo building that houses 450 units, then 10 units.

Aesthetic appeal has almost become a thing of the past. Designers today have to create what their client wants, and want their client wants….is to make money, save money, and…build. Therefore, the beauty gets left out of the Designer’s equation. Aesthetics don’t usually equal Dollar $$$$ $igns.

Unfortunately, this is what our world has become technology and functionality over beauty and aesthetics. I am hoping as designers that we can soon find a happy medium.

Sarah Gruhn
ARH 346

lauren dresbach said...

It is so hard to create something original since everyone wants to in a sense be the same. For instance, Apple just came out with the iPad (something so innovative and exciting) and now by next year there will be another one made by Dell. People are constantly copying things that have already been done and trying to make theirs better but really they are all pretty much the same.

Luly makes a good point about when designing the challenge is to truly be original. Everyone copies someones work in some way, whether its their style or their technique, being really innovative is extremely hard.

The only large company today that I think is truly innovative is Apple. They think of exactly what the consumer would really want from a product and create something that still tends to surprise everyone.

- Lauren Dresbach

Betsy said...

"In the 21st century the system is represented by the capitalist economic framework of mass production and mass consumption. This is less a result of design's intrinsic characteristics than of its necessary rapport with the cultural system that sustains it." ~Alfredo Triff

These ideas, above, really ring true to the last class. The dynamic of watching short videos (I assume mostly from You Tube) is very representative of the new wave of design talked about here. You Tube was created to give the public an arena to share their video design. It was created for mass production and mass consumption 100 percent.

What is beautiful about the often intrusive and overwhelming maximalist style, popular style is that it provides such a broad realm of mediums, audiences, pieces, styles, etc etc. It gives new art infinite boundaries. And that design has started to efficiently meld with architecture and environmental and urban design... this functional medium yields even more possibilities.

I found the videos shown in class very inspiring although also rather depressing and cynical at times. I think cynicism has a very important place in the art world. It gives art the power to change mindsets and ideals. This class has done the same.

Thanks so much, Elizabeth Rice

Sam said...

My original post has seemingly been deleted which is somewhat annoying as I was on a role!

The videos we watched last week on consumerism have played upon mind continuously since then. I dont think i was ever quite so aware of how much waste is produced around the world by mankind. I came away from the lecture somewhat deflated and pessimistic about the state of the world in general.
It occurs to me that despite the best efforts of this number of admirable companies not enough is being done to curb the flow of waste being produced by industry every year. It is not an easy problem to solve, after all how do you change the mentality of the entire human race?
Consumerism is the ideology of the 21st century. People work jobs in order to earn money so that they can buy items that invariably have little effect upon their lives. Companies think more about their profit margins then the long terms effects of their actions. And that will never change as long as the money they are making out weighs the benefits that they could make through change. Capitalism ensures that the entire impetus of peoples lives is to make money, because money = happiness, but why does everyone have to strive to be a millionaire? This cut throat mentality that is harbored through the desire to get ahead means that issues such as the environment, fall by the way side being left to the "hippies." A designer who can come up with a proposal that changes the recycling laws of an entire country, making it a criminal offence to produce hazardous waste, is what the world really needs but that is yet to come to fruition.

Ashley said...

I feel like it can go either way- it's up to the designer as to whether or not to allow modern day societal norms to form the work they produce. There is still the opportunity to break free, make a statement, and change the norms that control everyone else. This, I feel, is the great privilege of being an artist; the ability to make a difference. If this opportunity is not taken, however, I feel as if the designer in question is a sham. Just as Allison Brown stated in her comment, mass consumption has devalued the work of the designer. It is in our hands to create something worth something so much more than an advertisement or something that panders to the masses.

dmb said...

We live in a society where the consumer ultimately controls what is designed. I'm waiting for the day when design is one step ahead and revolutionizes culture -- the way people interact with each other and changes perception.

The most innovative design is that which looks to the future, but is still influenced by the past. I'm not speaking in terms of technological design. I'm talking about design as an art movement.

A group of students had a hand in initiating the futuristic movement, so why can't designers do the same? When we communicate in new innovative ways, behavior transforms and we evolve as a people and a culture.

- dayna m. bieber

AlexBroadwell said...

Design certainly becomes a part of whatever it represents. When a building or a logo becomes well known, one cannot see even it's basic shape without thinking about the system it is a part of. Beyond that, we can often tell a lot about a culture based on the design of the time. For instance, the rigid style of Communist propaganda posters seems very reflexive of soviet Russia at the time. The psychedelic wave of the 60's and 70's is of course frequently in design from that period, and the free spirited nature of kids at the time is reflected in design's crazy use of psychedelic patterns and colors. Your description of the "capitalist economic framework" is interesting, and I suppose this can be seen in things like De$$ign. The ever-evolving, almost pandering nature of much of modern design is as indicative of the culture and time as the psychedelic and communist posters were of theirs.

-Alex Broadwell

Juliana said...

I must say that after watching the beauty perfection video in class it made me realize how computers have influenced what the true meaning of beauty is. This ultra perfection of society that we live in requires us to go beyond the true meaning of beautiful. As much as photoshop has helped the designers, it has also affected what we define "beauty". Especially women today, looking at cover page magazines with flawless images of models, who can say that beauty can be altered. How about cultures? DIfferent cultures see beauty completely differently. For instance, Latin American cultures define beauty as natural perfection. Other cultures find that very pale (white) women show purity and heath. So watching that photoshop perfection video really made me realize how images of people can be altered dramatically. Although there is no such thing as being prefect, women especially will do anything to get as close as possible.

jorell said...

It is obvious that design is driven by capitalism. The videos you showed us last class were proof that everyone is out for money. In order to get money they invent an agenda, be it the environment or a war. Regardless of the agenda, there begins a following within our culture and it becomes the 'In' thing to do. The recent popularity of certain topics or ideas does not make them any more or less important. People are always dying everywhere. As long as there are people with money, there will always be poverty. The earth was here long before us and will continue to flourish after we have live out our span as a species. So any idea of environmentalism is selfish in the sense that it is in the best interest of humanity, not the planet. As long as this is the focus, I have no quarrel with environmentalists.

Anonymous said...

I agree with previous posts regarding the focus of today's American society on consumerism and the desire for individuals to attain more and more goods in order to feel fulfilled. This is an idea masterminded by the CEOs of big corporations but is ultimately executed by graphic designers. This is why I enjoyed a lot the webpage you showed us called adbusters. These are the creative minds that point out the ways in which designers take a part in the promotion of consumerism

Alejandra Esayag