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by on April 13, 2011

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…).


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