Veronica Grow of Old School the New School for Design & Typography shares some thoughts on socially conscious design and the outcomes of her recent “Re-belly-on of the Beast” initative.
“While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think they can make change, often do.” — Steve Jobs
Well all the submissions for the Re-belly-on are in. And they are most certainly weird, and kooky. They are far from pretty and slick, and isn’t that so great? Why? Because (and I do love pretty) this is about process not product. Isn’t it great that there are a few wild people out there who resist the need to fit in? Or as Re-belly-ion participant Henrik Josefsson so eloquently put it – be enslaved by the “designer ball and chain”? I am glad that there are those out there in internet land who are brave enough to to open themselves up to being criticised openly on a public forum, instead of just trying to limit themselves by looking good. Yes!
As Stefan Sagmiester says: We are drowning in a sea of professionally designed stuff that nobody gives a **** about! So it’s so nice to see submissions for the Re-belly-on which, while not slick, are full of heart and passion. It will also be interesting to see the feedback process commence.
Personally, for me, it’s also good to have a salient reminder to re-affirm the whole purpose of Old School New School. The Re-belly-on coincided with mainstream award shows which was an interesting distraction. You have to stick to your vision though, because becoming part of everyone else’s agenda is suicide. This school has been created for every designer who sits at his/her desk thinking “So is this it”?
We have set ourselves up with the objective of helping designers figure out how to make a difference. Old School is a socially conscious Design School, which means that we look at everything we do as an opportunity to make the world better. Old School is real. We don’t delude or insult your intelligence with hollow promises of fun and fame, because you can’t eat medals and sometimes life (and design) is messy.
Socially conscious design starts with being aware. About being awake, instead of sliding into the way of doing things that have always been done. It would have been easy and seductive to create another ritzy, fun, exciting competition that centred on product and fame instead of process. But that would not be very brave, and who does that help?
With this in mind, we need to acknowledge that CHANGE IS SLOW. To all our followers, friends and allies who live in hope of change, we need to remind you of the fact that true change is POSSIBLE. To the small band of truly brave individuals who are brave enough to risk ridicule, and want to fly in the face of change, CHANGE IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.
I know that there are many designers and design professionals out there who will dismiss the lack of art direction and low resolve of the submissions for the Belly of the Beast. If you are among them, you have sadly missed the whole point, because you see, the PROCESS IS THE PRODUCT. These submissions are about a process of ideation and design thinking. They are submitted to start a discussion so that we all can learn.
I believe that if everyone was saying “wow” at these submissions, it would be problematic. This would mean that we are just another place that fits into a populist design agenda which is pretty shallow. Even though currently there are diversions that are not socially conscious, there will always be those that focus on product not process. Old School New School must continue with its socially conscious agenda. This initiative is only the beginning of a long process ahead of us.
You have to start. From little things big things do grow. How many decades did it take for the voice of the Native Inhabitants of this land to be heard through mainstream noise? Slowly thinking does shift from whisper to murmur to roar.
So we encourage you to say yes, we encourage you to think. Even though it is easy to get stuck in the status quo – which involves meetings, deadlines, paying bills, family commitments, appearing to be cool – we encourage you to remember that these distractions are less powerful than you are.
We want to help you walk in the right direction.
Have a look at the submissions to the Re-belly-on of the Beast. Get involved, add suggestions to those individuals who have bravely been the first. Be inspired as we keep you updated with the supportive commentary given by our board of six erudite international design masters. Raise your glass to the weird, the kooky and the oddballs, to discussion and free thinking, to those who don’t feel the need to be confined by style and spectacle.
And take inspiration to be free and liberated, and to enjoy NOT conforming to design stereotypes. Start, just start. Be prepared to make a fool of yourself, and get things wrong. From this open and free spirit, just watch what does emerge.
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