Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thirst for value

In cleaning out the old to make more headspace (physical space not needed!), I pruned some more magazines from the shelves. Steve Heller's interview of Rick Valicenti in Print's 2006 Regional Design Annual yielded some strong, smart and sobering thoughts from Thirst's founder—and, with Lorraine Wild and Louise Sandhaus—WildLuV's co-founder. I recycled the artifact of the magazine and, below, am digitally recycling some items worth saving (bold emphasis is mine).

Heller: Why do you hate design?

Valicenti: As much as I delight in the presence of great design in my life and community, I feel so violated by the shit that is everywhere; bad design seems to ooze into the culture at every turn. This is the design I hate, as it is a reflection of such scant respect for those who must be in contact with it. At the core of design's practice is the virtue of respect—for the process, for the craft, and for the message-making and distribution. There are only three types of messages designers are invited to help express: messages of value, messages about value, and messages of no value. Only two are really worth our time and passion, but the pressures of commerce and life encourage us to be less discerning as to where we practice design. And it is this circumstance that I also hold in contempt. Design has the means to be a healing, one-to-one exchange and be a rewarding medium that enhances, not contaminates, one's quality of life.

Moral values remain true. Value in a marketplace may change. Certain artifacts have less value than they did decades ago. The value of skills evolves—just as skills themselves evolves. The key thing is for design to be "a healing, one-to-one exchange," even as the medium changes.

The links are to 2006, but the message still works.


If you can find a live link to WildLuV, the design collaborative, post it!


Suzanne Dell'Orto said...

Weird that there is no website for WildLuV anymore...? Should we snag it? (just kidding)

I agree even more with Valicenti's first 2 sentences...that I sometimes feel so violated by the bad design. On a more forgiving note, I don't think that all bad design is on purpose; often it's just a lack of knowledge, skill, and expertise.

Beth Tondreau said...

For me, bad design is wasteful, serves no purpose, and is hard to use. But, years ago, that could have described David Carson's work, which is not bad design.

What is your definition of bad design?

What violates you?

Is the sign for Friendly's, for instance, good, bad or kitsch?

Suzanne Dell'Orto said...

For me, bad design is unusable. Things that make me feel stupid because I can't figure out how to use them are bad design. Stupid icons are bad design (and that goes for you, too, Adobe InDesign. Oh and MS Word, Excel, Blackberries, & c.). If I have to learn your language in order to learn how to use your gadget or toy or game or whatever, I'm not interested. I'd rather spend my time learning a language (uh, HTML 5?) that has deeper use and usefulness.

Kitsch is fine, and the Friendly's sign is there to tell me (1) where the Friendly's is, check. (2) entice me with some menu item as I drive or walk by, check. (Full disclosure: there is not a lot advertised on that sign that I would actually pull over for).

How about you?

Beth Tondreau said...

I stand by my original comment:

For me, bad design is wasteful, serves no purpose, and is hard to use.

As for my comment about David Carson, it served a purpose: it got everyone to notice a culture.