i’d like to venture an answer to the following post from chappellellison, specifically question #2:
I had the great fortune of sitting down with design writer Rick Poynor for a one-on-one discussion about the current state of design writing. We both have passionate opinions on the topic, so we covered vast territory in our one-hour talk. We agreed upon the following:
Critical design writing is in a lull. This lull, however, is part of the cyclical nature of design discourse; there have been lulls in the past and there will be lulls in the future. The goal right now is to envision a way out of this current lull.
We also left with these unanswered questions:
- What are the barriers preventing the emergence of new critical voices?
- If we created a well-edited, international design journal, would there even be a business model that would support it?
- Are critical voices and new publishing models not emerging because we are all too distracted?
- Are American designers and design writers stuck in a perpetual loop of positive affirmation, where “likes” are rewarded and criticism is shunned?
Rick and I both agreed that the problem isn’t that there is less critical design writing today, but that it is harder to find, buried under heaps of fluffy “soft” design writing.
I’m convinced that there is an optimistic future for publishing in general, and I want design writing to be at the forefront of this inquiry. But what is the next step?
as for my answer, here goes:
maybe there would be a business model that supported it, though i doubt it. but i think more important than the creation of a well-edited design journal is that designers themselves actively articulate design criticism “for free,” as it were. as just a part of the regular practice of what it is to be a designer. this is what i strive to do here on this site. i think this is what steven heller attempts to do over at print mag. i also think modes of criticism is making a good effort.
in short, i think encouraging designers (and design writers) to write their own criticism and publish it on their outlets, or outlets like medium.com will be a very fruitful way of overcoming any lull that may beset design discourse. ultimately the more skilled and convincing writers will become the more prominent ones as well, and in this i think we will find a rich and dynamic design criticism community.
actually, i’d like to answer question #1 a little as well. the single largest barrier preventing the emergence of new critical voices is money. the people with the most money that are able to pay the most to designers tend to be people trying to advertise one useless product or another, which is a major critical theme in my writings. if you alienate these people, how will you make a living? for my part, i’ve decided i don’t care what they think of me. the use of design to exploit and manipulate the masses must be challenged, so i do my best to that end. but i do wonder if maybe a few people may shun me for it. oh well.