Theoretical Discourse Paper

I can’t decide whether or not what I’m planning to discuss in my paper is an already over subscribed debate but I thought I might look at the role of the consumer in relation to everyday design – with particular regard to public perceptions, influence, ownership…or a title to that effect.

I think this idea has a lot of potential in terms of looking at case studies of reactions to good/bad design. The immediate example that springs to mind is the Wolff Olins 2012 London Olympics logo. From a professional point of view; readers, writers, designers, etc in the magazine Computer Arts have all commented on the reactions and, as pointed out in one letter – maybe the most important thing to take from this is the fact that the logo has made people notice and talk about design. This is particularly interesting when you consider that:

Design can be found everywhere.

It’s just maybe that we don’t notice it – I suppose there exists a paradox, of a sort, where good design should be memorable, simple, effective, concise, all of those things and more.

In many cases however, design should not always distract or over shadow the main focus of a ‘thing’. (Thanks Adrian!)

Anyway, back to the point…I think an interesting issue for me to focus on would be in looking at how far design is affected by it’s audience and how, issues of ownership come into play.

With the rise of Web 2.0 (whatever that really is?) more emphasis has been placed on user manipulation of content. Could people now, very tentatively, describe themselves as designers? Sites such as Facebook and MySpace allow users to place almost every piece of personal information thinkable on to a page and then control or direct other users’ attention through their content via the use of the modular system. A user can affiliate and enrich their self image using photographic, video, audio and textual artefacts, not to mention a whole range of popular cultural signposts by way of play lists, event calendars, favourites lists: music, film, tv, books, quotes, etc. To this extent, can they claim to be designers? Maybe ‘knowledge architects’ of a short?

If they aren’t the designers, what designer would be brave enough to claim that they designed the dull and generic yet, functional, facebook layout???

Just kidding ; )

I think this point emphasises the importance of trying to define what a designer does, how far does their involvement take the product before a user can begin making it theirs?

With this in mind, what does the future of design hold for designers?

How will the notions of evolutionary and revolutionary design continue to categorise new developments, and will we see more or less of either?

So, as always, lots to think about.

More soon.

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