Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Capsule: Tim Parsons

The most engaging designer on display at Design Mart at the Design Museum at the moment is Tim Parsons, mostly for his truisms. These are faithfully transcribed from an image on his website. Go to both web and exhibition.

Having been impressed with the power of the ‘truisms’ created by American artist Jenny Holzer – lists of frank, brief statements, believed to be true at the moment of writing – a set of ‘design truisms’ were compiled over the months prior to the show.

Although highly dogmatic in tone the statements tried to convey some of the sticky and contradictory issues and anxieties that product designers face.

A product may be a word in an essay

Adding another object is not always the answer

Advertising is design's spin-doctor

Branding camouflages substance

Change is good for the soul

Creativity cannot be taught

Design education is a life skill

Every design has a political undertone

Form without content is waste

Freedom is slavery, especially in design

In the mind, a design is never finished

Independence encourages audacity

It is a luxury to have time to create

Marketing is design's pimp

Movements decay into styles

Patenting allows ideas to be imprisoned

Perfection creates waste

Post-Modernism was a necessary evil

Preoccupation with objects is unhealthy

Pride in ideas obstructs progress

Providing more choice is a smokescreen

Real value doesn't evaporate after purchase

Resistance to trend is commendable

Signature styles reveal vacant minds

Solving artifical problems is cowardly

There is humantity in mis-use

Utopia is the only honest starting point

With volume comes responsibility


Blogger thunk. said...

I've been thinking about this on and off for the last couple of days, trying to work out a coherent response – too much coffee and not enough sleep.

One thing that immediately came to mind was the comparison to a manifesto – although arguably the two are very similar in terms of making a (quite dogmatic) statement, the truisms seem to be more... valid, i suppose is the right word, because they are believed to be true at the time of writing.

Of course, a manifesto's words (must be? should be? are?) 'true at the time of writing', but if say published by a political party, and then some of them retracted or changed a year or two later, then we perceive their words to be hollow, to have no genuine meaning. Because they changed.

And people's ideas and 'beliefs' do change. Tschichold, considered to be one of, if not the, definitive writers on Modernist typography, changed his ideas and returned to working with a more 'traditional' idea of design.

Perhaps design studios could (should?) begin to compile a list of truisms, to replace the manifestos displayed so prominently on their sites. They smack too much of 'revolution', when really they are (generally) not that radical. My own site is guilty of this. A list of truisms, changing over time would be a much better, and more interesting, way of documenting thinking, than making broad, sweeping statements.

This is a truism.

I think.

10:41 am  

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