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Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 07:16 am
Design for a rainy day

Hisae and I braved the cold, wet weather currently gripping Berlin in its clammy hands to see the DMY09 Youngsters design show at Treptower Arena. But something about the kind of design on display in shows like this just strikes me as wrong and boring at the moment. It's probably the recession -- the economic equivalent of a rainy day.



While it was a buzz to get into a big, dry aircraft hangar-like space and see a bunch of young design-oriented people, a lot of the work on show struck me as "conversation piece" design: "Oh look, you have a set of bookshelves that tilt / a pair of chopsticks that work like a fork / a square-framed bicycle!" Does the world really need gimmicks like these? Like the iconic architecture of the last fifteen years, this stuff seems designed not for use, but to a) get magazine features, b) grab eyeballs in big design fairs and c) if it is bought and taken home, spark unbearably bourgeois conversations at dinner parties. I'd like to have seen more work wearing the hair shirts of utility, sustainability and affordability, because frankly I think in the current climate design should be asking what it can do for the poor.



There's still room for optical pizzazz, though, as Alice Rawsthorn's account of design at the Venice Art Biennale makes clear: the picture above is Tobias Rehberger's zappy cafe for the Palazzo delle Esposizioni.



At DMY09 too there were spots of sunshine; Swiss designer Béatrice Durandard's "vivid objects" were refreshing, and I liked the Sandberg Institute's experimental apartment project.



There was also an intriguing "jellyfish theremin" by Yuri Suzuki, whose Prepared Turntable (above) both looks and sounds great. Suzuki's statement for the DMY catalogue points up how design can help in times of depression: "A strange story from Japan: a particular train line had a higher suicide rate than other train lines. A music specialist found out that the alarming departure sound of the train psychologically affected people, creating despair or uneasiness. So the train company changed the sound in some stations. Yuri Suzuki’s design aim is to create products that can change properties between humans and sound."

25CommentReply

subalpine
subalpine
subalpine
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 06:06 am (UTC)

I wonder, is it a lock-groove record being played on the Prepared Turntable?

I can't seem to work out what it means to "change properties between humans and sound," but this Yuri Suzuki does seem to have intriguing ideas.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 09:41 am (UTC)

I think he means "relations" rather than "properties", but you can't get the editors these days.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 06:47 am (UTC)

Like you give a shit about the poor, you sanctimonious dick.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 09:34 am (UTC)

I was certainly impressed by your Cynicism For Africa drive, Anon. You raised at least a shilling.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 09:55 am (UTC)

I never did anything for Africa, dickwad. I just hate people who even talk like it might be a good idea.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 12:45 pm (UTC)

Your "reverse righteousness" is tiresome and more harmful than any kind of middle class liberal sanctimony.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 02:47 pm (UTC)

AynonyRandmous


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 09:57 pm (UTC)

What does 'dickwad' mean? It's a very strange word. Is it 'American'?


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constructionism
constructionism
constructionism
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)


I laugh, you troll!!

I like the pieces in the middle picture. We are living in such insecure times. This has been the worst decade I've been through in my life: recession, war, terror, people in a panic about every little thing.

I read stuff like Dwell where they use a lot of natural materials. The kind of design I like best these days is inspired by agriculture, food and health. We need to do a better job at promoting global health and design should reflect that effort.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 07:31 am (UTC)

"conversation piece" design -

Totally. There is so much of this that caters to image aggregators like ffffound. it's a sound bite mentality and its shelf life is ridiculously small. The same goes double for conceptual art these days.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 08:08 am (UTC)

Think I'd get a headache in Tobias Rehberger's zappy cafe.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 10:45 am (UTC)

what should design be doing for "the poor" in your opinion?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 11:12 am (UTC)

Design for the other 90%.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 01:38 pm (UTC)

mmm... looks like a lot of ways of luring third world farmers into the first world economy, i.e., of making new, dependent consumers.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 01:17 pm (UTC)

HIPPOPOTAMOMUS IS THE BEST RECORD EVER


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
RE: HIPPOPOTAMOMUS IS THE BEST RECORD EVER

There's been a definite increase in these "I love your music" statements since you made the albums available through your website. And let me chime in and say that I am thoroughly in love with Tender Pervert. Up until then, you were just an interesting blogger as far as I was concerned. Good job.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC)

Hey Nick, Arturo here. What you described about the format and content of the DMY09 show is exactly what I'm dealing with in my grad-school. A lot of useless non-art, and inventions we don't need, but at least they are mostly contained in a learning environment where failure is practically encouraged. There are bigger issues than new iPhone apps and design gimmicks. I'm going to be the hidden subverter, changing the place from the inside. Hope Greece is great.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 08:37 pm (UTC)

Hey Arturo, Hisae and I just spent the day running around Berlin with Aki!



She seems to have brought the good weather.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 11:05 pm (UTC)

Thanks, Aki. Good weather is a well accepted gift.


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milky_eyes
milky_eyes
milky_eyes
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
where we are now

I think the gimmicky element in almost all products being made, is caused, mostly by western cultures importants being put on the individuals 'thinking for him/herself' and the idea that more 'choices' means better, and that more in general is better.
Also, most people no longer think about quality, mostly about the gimmick... so thats what is being made these days.
the 'poor' (90% of everyone else) dont want special design that is cheap, well made, and honest in nature... they want something that is cheap (or not so cheap) is advertised on tv and (the most important part) that gives them a momentary feeling of self importants. Thats it. A very small amount of people want and think about actualy quality, and then there are a lot of 'educated' schooled types that have big jerk-off sessions thinking about what the 'poor' should do, or have...etc...

Design shows are not really the place for 'design for the poor'. A big flashy design expo is by its nature not going to do that. If it tried it would be a big fucking lie and be a big dick in the mouth of the 'poor'. Design expos are meant to show-off big flashy things that dont really work. Whats wrong with that? I dont really like it, you dont really like it... but we both sometimes go...and, If you go, thats what you'll see, You know it, I know it , we all know it. Going and conplaining, is common, but, it's like complaining that a lemon is bitter.


I personally like the diy movement... which comes and goes each decade...
making things.

It's really sad that the world is full of useless things...
but what can one do but go about ones own life and create and build with thought.


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endoftheseason
endoftheseason
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 05:05 pm (UTC)
Europe charges back to the right

Not entirely unrelated to the topic of gimmicky, useless fiddling while Rome burns:

"In Germany and Austria, the Social Democrats suffered their worst defeats since World War Two. I don't say that with pleasure. A vibrant labour-SPD movement is vital for German political stability. It was the peeling away of Socialist support during the Bruning deflation of the Depression years--so like today's Weber-Trichet deflation--that led to the catastrophic election of July 1932, when the Nazis and Communists took half the Reichstag seats.

This will not happen again, thankfully, because there is no Bolshevik threat luring business into a Faustian pact with Fascists. But the picture is not benign either. Unemployment in Germany may reach 5m by the end of 2010, according to the five 'wise men', even if recovery comes on schedule."

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/ambrose_evans-pritchard/blog/2009/06/08/europe_swings_right_as_depression_deepens

Yes, it's from the dopily nicknamed "Torygraph." Best not to get hung up, though, on any silly and convenient indignation about the source.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 11:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Europe charges back to the right

It's not that crazy. Compared to the last EU voting, they "just" lost 0.7 percent. They're on a downfall, though, that's right. But it's not because people stopped being interested in the concept of Sozialdemokratie, it's because the SPD doesn't stand for this concept anymore. They've got big issues.

What's left me wondering is the rise of the FDP by almost 5%.


ReplyThread Parent
vogdoid
vogdoid
vogdoid
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)

we hosted a lecture on Friday by Kazuo Kawasaki, who got attention in the US for the "Sarah Palin glasses" but has done design work on everything from cutlery to artificial organs (and now is working on virtual surgery environments). He talked about "progressive inclusive design" and "peacekeeping design"--an example of the latter being safer, easy-to-use packaging for immunizations.

I saw "design for the other 90%" in Minneapolis last year & was somewhat impressed, though I'd like to see more information about production & distribution strategies.

Edited at 2009-06-08 06:08 pm (UTC)


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 08:42 pm (UTC)

A lot of this thinking goes back to Victor Papanek's Design for the Real World:


ReplyThread Parent
viceanglais
viceanglais
Mon, Jun. 8th, 2009 11:48 pm (UTC)


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