The framing of what we design is very important to how we go about it. We have not been framing these things as contexts. We’ve been framing them as products, services, and a whole other series of terms that are— Tools, for example. And these are things that are mostly transactional. They’re not things that are meant to be inhabited.
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We as designers have an ability to provide perspective, to bring focus, and to share the tools that we use on a daily basis to align a group of disparate voices for a cause that is greater than our own.
How many black designers do you know? If you find that there’s not many or you don’t know any at all, that’s actually perfectly okay. That’s fine. And part of the reasoning I think behind this is that you know, we don’t really know where they are. We don’t see them because they’re not reflected in our design media.
I teach my students that design is ongoing risky decision-making. And what I mean by ongoing is that you never really get to stop questioning the assumptions that you’re making and that are underlying what it is that you’re creating—those fundamental premises.
There is this very bizarre alliance between world-changing geeks on the one hand and policymakers who only care about outcomes. They no longer care about how those outcomes are arrived at. They have stripped politics of all meaning. All they want is to get people to do the right thing. They don’t care why they do it.
I’m here today to talk to you about food and design. About what’s cooking in design, and what’s designing in food. But most of all I’m here to recommend to you never to let designers decide what you will eat.
Some of my artist friends think what I’m doing isn’t art, and I’ve given up on art. It’ll take care of itself. You know. I mean it’s always been there, it will always be there, and we always know that new art never looks like art at first, ever. So why should this be any different? We just have to trust the process. And I would say that must be true for every other discipline.
“But how can you be so disciplined?” friends always ask when I tell them my job is to get up every day at 6 AM Monday to Friday and think up insane stuff. Easy. If I didn’t work this hard for myself, I’d have to go work for somebody else. Plus, I can go to my office one room away from my bedroom in my own house dressed in my underpants if I want to.
We live between despair and hope. No one knows why we are here, and nothing makes sense. Don’t forget that. You could ask yourself, “What is the point?” until you go crazy, literally. So, the starting point is to not know. And then to proceed.
Work on what you love. This is such an easy thing to say, and it seems so obvious. What else should we work on? What else could we work on? And yet the problem of aligning our passion and our production, our love and our work, remains one of the great life challenges that we face as artists, as designers, and as citizens.