Thursday, May 20, 2010

Postcards from the new edge

Last night I popped into the opening of Design Journeys at the AIGA National Design Center. The opening was electric. Rafael Esquer and his collaborators's interactive mural is brilliant—intricate in creation but clear, simple, and strong in intent (grab you; make you participate). The exhibition included literal takeaways (or sendaways) in the form of postcards customized with each designer's work on the front and a formatted back that included a few key messages: 1. "Visitors are encouraged to consider their own journeys and place in design" and 2. "Tell a friend. . . I am here because. . . ." In addition, it would be cool to have e-postcard versions (although perhaps there's the omnipresent rights issue?). E-cards would be easy to send—and would justify my hanging on to the printed postcards. Consider this a digital postcard.

I found the stories on the Design Journeys site more inspirational than the work on the walls and Macs. I recognized a fair amount of work in the show; what's news and inspiring for me are the life stories and statements—what impel/propel/compel each featured designer. Early on, Michele Washington was inspired by her grandmothers's fancy church hats. Rafael Esquer got lost after a 36-hour train trip from Sonora to Mexico City and missed an architecture entrance exam, which altered his path. Karin Fong was a cheerleader (this is a gross simplification).

I was struck by Karin Fong's homage to Sheila de Bretteville . . .
an artist and designer who joined the Yale faculty in 1990 as director of graduate studies in graphic design, [and who] resonates powerfully for the ways in which she advocated for the voice of designers. De Bretteville denounced the manner in which designers are subsumed by their clients, and argued instead that student designers should adopt a strong attitude and clear point of view in their work.

We designers must take the lead, but there is often a struggle between being an open-minded partner and a glorified order taker.

The impetus for the AIGA initiative and the exhibit was to diversify the profession; the result also diversifies ideas and increase braincells. Design Journeys is worth the trip to the AIGA for designers who are just starting out or who've been on the road for a while and are, as a GPS would say, "recalibrating."

A few of the exhibition's postcards: Top: Forever Now by Rafael Esquer; Left: Homeland #1 by Rebecca Méndez; Right bottom: The Wazir's Majid by Samina Quaraeshi.

Not in show: Endless Possibilities by Beth Tondreau

1 comment:

Suzanne Dell'Orto said...

Love the arrangement of these cards!