Mark Lamster | Essays

Overkill, Design Publishing Dept.


I have a piece out in the new issue of Dwell, a peek at a modest kitchen reno in Brooklyn. It's not online yet. I presume it will be soon and shortly after that, I suspect it will be repurposed on everyone's favorite new site, unhappyhipsters, where Dwell's images are recaptioned to comic effect.

Modernism is such a downer! Ha! The site's brilliant, and I will admit I thought it hilarious the first 87 times I clicked over. I'm sure there will be a book. I will say, however, that the gag is starting to wear thin at this point. Okay. We all get it. The other day, the lovely, self-designed home of my friends Daniel and Annie Mihalyo got the treatment. No harm. To me, the funniest thing about this is that Daniel is the most innately good natured person walking this earth. I don't think he could be unhappy if he tried — and he's not particularly hip either. This brings me to the small flurry of comments on my recent piece on Design Observer, a review of a new monograph by 2x4. I think the piece stands for itself, so haven't entered this fray (and will not do so here), but I did want to respond to a line of argument that seems endemic to negative comments on that site, and elsewhere. To wit, anytime a reader finds a piece of writing they don't like, it's not just a piece of writing they don't like, but a sign of The End of Design Writing. That is, that "Design Writing" — as if there could be such a monolithic thing — has somehow fallen from some high state of art and that the economic troubles of the design publishing business is the deserved come-upance for this state of affairs (as opposed to the economic meltdown and poor management).

This is batshit crazy. This is the Golden Era of Design Writing. There are so many good design writers practicing I can hardly keep track of them. It's almost depressing; I don't have time to read all of their work. We even have a graduate program in design writing pumping new talent into this system. Yes, it's sad that we've lost a few magazines, and that it's harder than ever to eek out a living in this business. But still, from a consumption standpoint, there is more good work available than ever before. Anyway, I'm all for complaining — hell, I'm a record-setting complainer. But, please, let's all get a bit of perspective.

Posted in: Theory + Criticism

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