Cover Notes — February

AUTHOR:  
Published:  February 14, 2013
Heath Killen
Cover Notes — February

Each month this year we’re going to be featuring a little more information about the concept behind (and design of) our print issue covers.

The cover for February (#290 – Activated) comes to us from Inkahoots in Brisbane, who are also profiled in the issue. Inkahoots member Jason Grant had the following to say about the bold statement inscribed across the front.

The cover image is a photograph of a granite plaque mounted out front of the Inkahoots studio West End in Brisbane. It was carved by hand by a local stonemason and is a replica of an inscription on Marx’s grave in London’s Highgate Cemetery. The original text is from Marx’s 1845 “Theses on Feuerbach” and reads “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways, the point however is to change it.”

Referring to the dialectical relationship between ideas and the material world, it was ripe for appropriation as part of our ongoing series of Second Hand Philosophies, a little project that attempts to redirect and recontextualise design. After all, “The designers have only packaged the world in various ways, the point however is to change it”. Of course it is true that the ‘packaging of the world’ has caused immense change, but that is exactly the kind of change that needs changing. And the way the design media, in Australia especially, has skimmed the surface of visual culture, dodging design’s role in maintaining social and political inequity, disadvantage and atomisation, just renders designers impotent. Casts us as sycophants. Assigns us as slaves. But we will rise…

Jason raises some important points here, not only with regards to the practice of design, but the ways in which it is examined and discussed. At Desktop, we’re eager to hear your thoughts on this subject. What sorts of issues would you like to see us focus on in the future, and how do you think we can help improve the quality of design discourse in Australia?

We invite your feedback about the website and magazine in the comments section below, or alternatively you can send your thoughts directly to us via email. We are particularly keen to hear from people who are interested in contributing to Desktop online and in print. One of the biggest challenges we face (beyond the persistent issues of time and money) is simply finding people who are willing to share their knowledge and opinions in writing.

Personally, I’m still learning everyday and I know that I still have much to learn. I’m constantly having my ideas challenged and while that can be unsettling at times, I think it ultimately leads to improvement. Being challenged doesn’t mean that you have to re-evaluate everything you believe either, it can often be galvanising, but if we are to push our industry forward we need to be willing to critically examine our work as individuals, and collectively as audiences we need to facilitate an open and supportive forum for the discussion of a wide range of issues.

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2 Responses

  1. fantastic! well said! brilliant.. particularly like the following….

    “And the way the design media, in Australia especially, has skimmed the surface of visual culture, dodging design’s role in maintaining social and political inequity, disadvantage and atomisation, just renders designers impotent. Casts us as sycophants. Assigns us as slaves. But we will rise…”

    This is so true, because as “visual people” we especially find images seductive. But we do indeed need to wake up, and be ware of the power of “The Spectacle” and “Hyperrealism”. These two phenomena are very dangerous because they numb us down so that we become passive recipients, instead of empowered individuals.

    And we don’t want to read. Does the internet make it worse. I think it does unfortunately, as we become more lazy.

    so i am glad that you are aware of this Heath, and that you are working to change it!

    i loved the way described this as “fetishisation” of design in your last issue, and only today, on my personal face book site, happily joined in a great conversation with about 20 of my ex students as they joked about the superficial nature of one our popular design blogs, and the way the same people are recycled as celebrities here in Melbourne. So I think you will find that you will gain some new follwers and readers from your stance.

    It’s also been good hearing more of what happens in Qld, especially about the Design Futures Program.

    Long live Design Activism!!!

  2. Jo Foster

    although I wouldn’t normally bother I picked up a copy of this issue. inkahoots is a rare and special practice, and I’m always puzzled by the attention bestowed on far lesser studios in australia. their work and ideas are just so much more interesting than the usual suspects. if desktop is going to keep this up, I agree with the above post that you might find a new audience. hopefully it isn’t just a passing whim? anyway thanks for the feature and I look forward to a ‘redirected and recontextualised’ desktop, or at least less of the expected guff.

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