// BarryBlog //

A creative dumping ground for issues that interest me personally and professionally, with the thought they may interest you too. Issues such as the business of design, the design of business, the design of objects, design strategy, creative direction, innovation, creativity, thought leadership, observations, as well as recommendations, mid-century modern decorative arts and architecture, and the state of my thinking (and currently the state of my heart).

Monday, May 12, 2008

Philippe Starck: "Design is Dead"

Designer Philippe Starck makes the claim that "Design is Dead" in a ZIET interview from March 27th. From my perspective, I see this a a possible instance of a big name designer working to create PR buzz for personal gain. I might be wrong. In fairness, I don't now Philippe, so that's probably not fair. As you read the article, it becomes apparent Phillipe is an intelligent man. His work as an industrial designer is worthy of attention and respect.

The interview resonated with me.

About 7 years ago I made a career change for nearly the same reasons. I was increasingly tired of doing and creating things with virtually no redeeming value. In my case, I was called into Christian ministry. Though I don't know where Starck's motivation lies for making such a claim, I could relate with his interview based on my desire to do something more important with my giftedness. His comments and the interview in general are certainly important, and add greatly to the discussion on consumerism. Something I have found myself wrestling with of late — here, here and here.

Here's a quote from the interview:

ZEIT: So why, then, have you become an industrial designer in the first place?

P.S.: That is an interesting question. And I haven't found an answer to it for myself yet. Look, I have designed so many things without ever really being interested in them. Maybe all these years were necessary for me to ultimatively recognize that we, after all, don't need anything. We always have too much stuff.

Read the rest of this article translated into English here—unless German's your preference, in which case here's the original ZEIT interview.

( via mademoisellea's vox spot )

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Anonymous Dean said...

What's intriguing here is not that Philippe Starck believes "Design is Dead." A lot of designers toy with this idea at some point. He's not the first, he won't be the last, and the design community always fall into the trap of discussing this meaningless topic. It's so obvious that design is "alive." It's everywhere in everything, from the trees outside to the buildings we live in to the iPod sitting on my desk. You can't escape design because something can't exist without it.

No, what's intriguing here is how Philippe is searching for greater meaning in his life. He's been searching for meaning through the projects he's chosen to design (or not), through the people he's worked with (or not), and through his attempts to build up (or break down) the industry itself. In short, he's been searching for meaning in his work.

True purpose never comes through your work. It comes through Whom you are working for, your attitude through the process, and the work that you chose to do. Perhaps Philippe is coming to realize this for the first time. But the concept is not new to some of us. When we—as individuals or as a community—use our design talents to create products that help others, we create products that have meaning and a purpose. The products themselves aren't to be revered, but they are necessary to be used. And getting products used requires excellent design in many areas, including packaging, usability, appearance, etc.

The question isn't whether design is dead or alive. The question is: What are you doing with the design talents you've been given?

12:37 PM  
Blogger studiosmith said...

An encouraging point. It's not a stretch for me to look back a few years and see how work was the only meaning. What an amazing joy to be serving God with the talents as hopefully he intended. I know that last project I did before my coming to Christ, the WKLOV Girls of Rock calendar, did not contribute much meaning to anyone.

It's a priviledge to serve with you brother.

6:03 PM  
Blogger stage3design said...

The pleasure is all mine, sir. All mine.

10:49 PM  

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