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Design: a reader's education

Postby Paola Antonelli » March 9th, 2004, 12:03 am

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Paola Antonelli
 
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It is evident from our discussion that education plays a very important role in moving from mere 'design awareness' to full-fledged 'design understanding' (I am quoting Ralph.) Although I feel that calling it an education is a little presumptuous, it is not. In some countries--and I think that England is one--it is a topic taught at elementary school. If you, like me, also feel a little flushed, you can call it 'exposure.'
What do we know that the readers do not know? To achieve our goals of a healthy inclusion of design among watercooler topics, what do we have the responsibility to clarify, first and foremost? Because design is 'a collection of crafts,' as Kurt indicated, should any article declare its cards at the beginning and include a brief explanation of the field of action, with particular evidence given to the design process? Can we do it without getting tedious?

Postby Kurt Andersen » March 9th, 2004, 8:38 am

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Paola asks: "should any article declare its cards at the beginning and include a brief explanation of the field of action, with particular evidence given to the design process? Can we do it without getting tedious?"

Mmmmm....I'd say: probably not, and probably not. What we know and can help readers understand (without telling them we're helping them understand it) is that *everything* is designed, and that the design of every object and piece of media consists of ten or 100 or 1000 aggregated choices about materials, fabrication, costs, utility, style, etc. But I think professionals can get a little hung up on the semantics and didactics: regular people may not say, "Hey, let's discuss design!" but plenty of water cooler conversations (unwittingly) take place about design all the time -- about the design of a new PDA, or a new CD case, or a new magazine, or a new piece of currency, or a new office chair, or whatever -- and I think lots of people are interested in reading or hearing about relevant design issues if those ideas are expressed in fresh, lucid, lively, informative, unpretentious ways. (Like, for instance, the occasional commentaries Paola delivers on my public radio show.)


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