30 Days – Day #18: Design

There’s been a lot of stuff about Art in this meme. There’s been precious little about Design in it. I like design, and back in the early days of this iteration of this blog, I spent a short while explaining what I think its relationship to Art is.

So having skipped past the need for that re-cap, I thought I’d now witter on a bit about what sort of design I like, and I thought I’d start with a couple of links to designers I know.

Phil Clandillon. I worked with Phil in a little yellow room in Acton. Dark Days. Phil’s particular knack is coming up with really interesting and clever shit using unexpected technologies. The Kasabian “Football Hero” video was him, as was the AC/DC music video that was an Excel spreadsheet, as were a few other clever things that you can find out about at his portfolio there. What I like about Phil’s best work is the strength of his ideas – the execution’s important, too, but I like the fact that Phil isn’t just turning out websites any more, but is in a place where he can come up with genuinely orginal stuff that pulls in all sorts of digital media, and generally makes me think “I wish I’d thought of that”.

BERG. BERG is the sort of place that I would love to work for, but quite frankly, am not clever enough to do so. What I love about their work is twofold: one, is that it tends to be cutting edge, at least in terms of thinking, if not technology, and two, that it tends to be made the with the aim of enabling people to do things – they’re makers, rather than marketers. Also, how can you not love an agency who named themselves after of something out of Quatermass?

Between those two, I find I’ve very neatly encapsulated what I love about design – it’s the means by which people’s ideas shape the world, and bit by bit, change our lives. Here at the start of the 21st century, if you’re not engaged with design as a (very broad) field on some level, I do kind of wonder what you’re doing with your life, apart from taking up resources that the rest of us could be making better use of.

So that’s design as idea, and design as world-shaper, which is all vitally important background, but what about aesthetics? After all, that’s what most people think of when they think of design.

Well, I only really qualified to talk about my own sense of aesthetics, and me, I’m a pretty unabashed Swiss modernist. Give me clean, clear lines, plenty of white space, and attention to simple detail in the service of clarity. Sure, I can appreciate the cluttered, hand drawn and grungy look – I quite like the work of people like Courtney Riot or Christopher Cox, but honestly, give me plain black text, well spaced, on a white background every time – a bit of simple elegance. If I had to pick my favourite font, it’d be Helevetica Neue – just about the only font face that is more precise and tidier than Helevtica.

This applies in just about everything from ink on paper to products to architecture – I love simple clear lines and an absence of clutter. Those who have seen the spaces I inhabit and the general state of my desk are probably laughing themselves sick right now, to which I can only remark that very often, really good design is an aspirational thing.