OBSERVATORY : KATE CULLINANE
Originality is paradoxical in design. Because communication relies on producing what is recognizable, it is impossible to generate work that is not in some way referential. Being original has become an ambition for many designers, but perhaps the focus needs to shift. Designers should concentrate on creating work that is new, but not original.
CHANGE OBSERVER : JOHN THACKARA
In what ways can design help people interact with living systems in ways that help both of them thrive? And, what small practical steps might one take to test the effect of small actions on the system as a whole?
NEWS FROM DESIGN OBSERVER GROUP SPONSORS
What are you doing this summer? How about studying design history, theory and practice in Italy the birthplace of Western typographic tradition. You can at the Masters Workshop in Rome May 26-June 9, 2013.
Learn More >>
MFA Design Program >>
SVA Website >>
PLACES : SIMON SADLER
What is revealed when we contemplate the late Steve Jobs not only as a technologist extraordinaire but also as a sort of architect? And if we then compare Jobs with another complicated virtuoso, Rem Koolhaas? As Simon Sadler argues, "Jobs and Koolhaas both seem to have been driven by the possibility that they can act inside, or around, a postmodern world resistant to purpose. Both share an attraction toward design as a type of hermeneutics — a will to learn about the world through the attempt to change it."
CHANGE OBSERVER : PHILIP NOBEL
Fifty people are killed off in the first chapter of Henry Petroski’s To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure
when a plane crashes en route to Buffalo. Thirteen hundred died when the levees failed in New Orleans. The number of victims grows with each example: the earthquake in Haiti; the collapse of the World Trade Center; the fire on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Even without mentioning Chernobyl, the body count reaches five figures. It’s those deaths — and the habits of thought, the human bungling, the pressures within the profession and beyond it that cause a thing to break and fall, to explode, melt or burst — that we are asked to understand ‘the nature of failure itself.'
OBSERVATORY : MARK LAMSTER
I am pleased to announce that next month I will become the new architecture critic
of the Dallas Morning News, and also a professor in the architecture school at the University of Texas at Arlington. This is an extraordinary personal opportunity, to say the least, and one that will place me in a city of Ewing-sized ambition and energy.
OBSERVATORY : RICK POYNOR
While the interest of an institution such as the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in political posters has the aims of scholarly understanding and public education, this curatorial enterprise cannot escape the Atelier Populaire’s words of warning. To step back from the political struggle to study its products with detachment, as objects of aesthetic interest, is to accept the established order that makes this manner of study possible.
OBSERVER MEDIA : DEBBIE MILLMAN
In this episode of Design Matters, Steven Heller discusses his new ebook, Design Cult
, how design is both a cult and culture, the dirty decade, the death of a trend and what designers have in common with Harvey Weinstien.
OBSERVATORY : ROB WALKER
Thanks to a rental car, I found myself confronted several times a day with an unnerving Panic button that seemed more invitingly pushable than the more ho-hum options around it. Presumably it's supposed to make me feel safe. But really: How many times a day do you want to contemplate the panic option?