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In Quietude, Kenneth FitzGerald’s article wasn’t so tranquil as the title suggests. However, he does make some valid points about design and design critics. Fitzgerald points out that “It’s a pretty, subdued time in design. Passion is running low [and] design continues to be a busy but overly placid, pleasant surface.” To some extent I agree that their are some designers out their today that aren’t as passionate about design as those in the past but it isn’t necessarily true to state that all designers nowadays are that way.

Although their are designers that design aesthetically without much thought put into it, I think it’s most prominent now because jobs that are offered today are corporate ones that might not care whether a piece has meaning, but it doesn’t mean that those designers didn’t exist in the past either, even when graphic design wasn’t really associated with corporations at the time. Since design has grown since then, more opportunities have been available to designers and whether we like it or not if it continues to grow, their will be designers that are going to fill those jobs. It’s just a matter of which designers will turn away from that and design something that is meaningful rather than solely aesthetic.

FitzGerald mentions design education and art criticism and how “Design has no heritage of or belief in criticism. Design education programs continue to emphasize visual articulation, not verbal or writing. The goal is to sell your idea to a client and/or a hypothetical audience.” I don’t completely agree or disagree with him because personally I want the criticism from others to better my work but what I don’t understand is criticism that isn’t constructive. And even though we are taught how to work programs and how to achieve a visually appealing piece more than writing about it, in order to talk about them we must know how to create them first don’t we?


Art Criticism

In the essay Quitude, FitzGerald speaks about the state of design and the lack of criticism in today’s climate.  He’s quoted as saying, “I’ve simply given up on a critical writing ever developing in the design field. If it evolves, it will be from the outside…” He claims that due to neglect design writing has lost its “intellectual rigor,” and a market for critical writing doesn’t exist. “Designers vote with their eyes and look away. And their isn’t much to look away from.” With graphic design being a visual art form, I believe we were all trained to “vote with our eyes,” but I think as designers we also view design works differently and analyze a variety of elements closely.

He goes on to say that “Anything of subtlety, depth, and breadth is ignored. Profiling a designer with some connection to celebrity and capital prevails over a think piece every time.” I agree with this quote in a since that most mainstream design seems to follow a pattern based on what’s considered safe or the only way to become a popular designer is to be backed by media or some mainstream figure. But I also feel that we should be happy that these “think pieces” are still being created. It’s very easy to fall victim to what is mass produced, but the fact that we have designers still thinking for themselves is a win in its own.

As far as written criticisms, I see it as a topic that is rarely mentioned and was intrigued but some what confused by FitzGerald’s point of view. He states that “ Design has no heritage of or belief in criticism,” and that “design education programs continue to emphasize visual articulation, not verbal or written.” This I cannot entirely agree with, because although criticism was never the main focus throughout my design education, we were always encouraged to verbally criticize works and give as much feedback as possible. Even though I don’t its completely absent from our trade, overall I think it would be interesting to see more written criticism centered around graphic design.

Ornamental Stuff and Things


Ornamental design is some of the most visually interesting style artist and designers can use. Its typically seen in magazines, commercials, competitions, and packaging. As long as the ornamentation complements the overall design rather than clutter it, the out come is something very unique and original. The article “The decriminalization of ornament” discuses the history and the use of ornamental design and also describe why it was abandoned then reawaken.

Similar to how fashion comes and goes through its phases then recycles itself over the years designers do the same thing. In the past ornamental design was innovative, creative, and distinctive. People who weren’t use to it saw it as something fresh for the design world. The problem occurred when too much of a good thing became bad. The more and more ornamental design was created the less the quality and original it became. To fix it designers went back to simplistic clean design to compensate for the overuse of ornamenting, but still united the ornamentation with their clean design style. This created a new form of simplistic ornamentation that we often see today.

To see ornamentation as a crime is something I completely disagree with. Just like all things there’s a time and a place for all design. The key to using it is knowing when to and when not to use it. For example., hp use to have a commercial for their laptops with special effects expressing the celebrities lifestyles in their hand movements as they told the viewer a brief story of what they did. It was hp’s response to being generalized in the pc world as uncreative and bland.

That design style for those commercials expressed exactly what hp wanted to without having to show any performance of there system whatsoever successfully.

Apple uses a non ornamental design style that fits their sales technique just as well. For the new iPad and iPhone they simply show you exactly what you can do in realtime. It’s a effective way to sell their products because it gives you the feeling that your actually using it yourself.

When it comes to using ornamental design successfully using it so it compliments your work or what you are trying to express is what’s important.

Ornament Design

Through out the article “The Decriminalization of Ornament” by Alice Twimlow, she discusses the struggle of ornament design throughout history and key points in the design world that have affected it; whether it was negative or positive there was always something to be said about decoration. Either it was done right or it looked gaudy and tacky in every way possible. She discusses a book called Grammar of Ornament and how that it discusses the appropriate uses of ornament and has 37 propositions all pertaining to the use and misuse of decoration. Owen Jones, the writer of the book, believes that ornament should be solely  geometrical and never agreed with the use of flowers or natural objects, unless of course they were portrayed in a conventional way. She then goes on to discuss the negative aspect of ornament from the point of view of author Owens Jones. through this part of the article Alice discusses the negative “kitchy” aspect to the ornament world. That because of the mass production of decoration, designs became less thought out and just pertained to the desire of mass production, mass money. This created low quality decoration with a dime a dozen effort. Meaning that it became very common to see. Before you knew it, in the 19th century, ornament was seen on everything everywhere. Another thing that i found interesting in this article is the discuss of ornament being a shift in voice and reason and thus introducing us to Modernist Manifestos. Something that really sparked a movement of ideas based off the like and dislike of something as simple, yet so complex, like decoration. Now, decoration in the 20th century is considered a little less taboo and more on the side of fascination of how long ornament has been debated as either essential or totally kitchy. With an attitude about ornament now having a side of historic curiosity , designers have lightened up to the acceptance of having fun with ornament. It is yet another changed opinion based on the technology given to us designers of the present and future. Without it, I truly believe we would not have asked the questions we have or made the statements we have. The author also questions whether or not ornament is something that we mainly see now in fashion. I believe that this is very true. If you look at cloth design, fashion is one of the biggest art subjects that looks back into the past for guidance, using highly decorative design. Through out the rest of the article, Alice goes on discussing the influence that the Art and Crafts movement had in creating a little niche place for Ornament itself. Stating that arts and crafts, decoration and ornament are all things that have a similar meaning but yet have different points about them as well. It has been because of all these movements like the arts and arafts, product design, and fashion, that ornamentation has been revived and in a sense recreated and taken away from its 19th century path towards destruction.


In ‘The decriminalisation of ornament’, Alice Twemlow talks about the evolution of the use of ornamentation in design. She also appears to be having a debate on whether or not ornamentation has a place in modern society. Twemlow brings in parts of ‘Ornament and Crime’ by Loos to illustrate why ornamentation had a “falling out” with designers and other artists. Along with mentioning the “falling out” of ornamentation, Twemlow also examines it resurgence in the twentieth/ twenty-first century.

She starts off by discussing the logo for Matter , a small design and homewares store.  The logo, which is featured in the article, is reminiscent of heraldry designs of family crests. The logo features a lowercase “m” in a square with matter centered underneath. Attached to the square/box are wings with five feathers, gradually increasing in size. Above the square/box is a floating crown, centered between the wings. Extending from both sides, just below the middle of the square/box, are vines. In my opinion, Matter’s logo is more similar to that of a makers mark seen on decorative plates and other ceramics. The advantage this style logo has is that it implies Matter as a well-established company/ business. Is this a good practice for businesses to have?

The article also discusses the relationship between craft decoration and ornamentation and the role technology is playing in today’s society. As seen through history the designs and decorations reflect the current times. The problem that has occurred is that the a that we see today, is rarely designed by hand, in the desired medium. Today and artist or designer sits in front of a computer and either scans in imagery or creates vector graphics. On the positive side, this method creates consistent, clean imagery that can be reused easily.

I feel however that by creating decoration and ornamentation in this fashion becomes similar to the way society is constructing houses and businesses. Simply

Sifting through files of layouts that have been proven to work and adapting them to fit a space. While this method provides a way of reducing the time it takes for construction, you end up with “cookie cutter” designs, with very little room for individuality or expression. Is this the way we want the design industry be?


Kenneth FitzGerald makes some pretty harsh judgments on the status of design and design criticism in this article. Some I can understand, but some I feel simply ask for too much. Many times, it seems like he wants processes that take years to develop and evolve to happen over night. (Which is understandable in our “want it, get it” culture.) But the reality of the situation is not that simple. Art as a whole has been at a stand still for a while. Since we as artists and art critics have discovered the concept of ‘abstract’ it seems that the borders of art have been blurred so much that many are almost lost as to where to begin. This same issue transfers over to Design, and I think it has to do with when design (seperate from art) was created in relation to the history of art.

We didn’t start using the term design until art already had developed many different methodologies. The leisure that art got to experience in it’s development over the years has helped evolve it into the complex structure it is today. Design however, began to get forced into different methodologies since the day of it’s birth– never truly getting its chance to grow and develop. The result is basically two schools: messy, grungy, distorted, or free design, and clean, clear, and structured design. Beyond that, what is there? sure you could probably break each section down more, but those two schools are basically the overhanging umbrellas.

Since there is a difference in both the purpose of their existence, and their origin, art and design should not be looked at as the same. Design can be as deep and complex as art, but not in the same way. Art has a much more rich history behind it to reinforce different ideologies, while design is still stuck in formalism. Since design is made (usually and most often) for the user (or client/audience) it’s main goal is usually a high level of appeal. Because of this, designers recognize what culture likes, and they reproduce it over and over, maybe sometimes adding a little twist, allowing culture to develop into what they’ll like next. Art has a much different goal, and thus should be approached, viewed, and critiqued differently.

This all relates to previous discussions we have had on the relation of art and design. Again, I think all art is designed, and design can be art, but not all design is or should be art. There is a distinction that I think will always remain. Design will, however, evolve just as his older brother did, but it will take years for that to happen (unlike Apple unfortunately…).

Quietude (Emigre #64:Rant)

I can kind of agree the Kenneth when he says the passions are running low, just within my class and the classes before me in comparison to the classes behind me. It seems like the love for the art from and the free spirit,rebellious wanting to be the next big thing attitude has begun to subside. Kenneth’s quote “Anyone hoping for waves is waiting for someone else to make them,” is deep and so true. Its often the case in the design world, designers think that just having great designs is enough to “make waves” presenting a lot of sumptuous yet trivia lworks . There’s selling the work getting your name out there, you have the look below the superficial layer of, yea that a great design, and got to, did thise person just get lucky, is there any passion or reasoning, does the design matte. As stated in the reading  there needs to be heat for light and your work needs to strike matches  not just eyes


The Discrimination of Ornament

I think that there’s a time and place for ornaments,and when used correctly they can be an affective part of the entire design, but the issue is that the have been so misused over the years that peoples taste for good ones has dulled and the appreciation factor has depleted. When the readings says that ornaments is a  part of the dominate visual language it don’t quite agree with that. I think they just add to the ascetics. In most cases the work can or could be just a powerful without the extra. Ornaments should not be used lightly, they need to be correctly places and presented, because they can make a piece better or destroy it with grotesque extra nonsense.