Partners Susan Sellers, Michael Rock, & Georgianna Stout
At a recent studio critique, Bernard Tschumi asked his students to articulate a distinction between "What it looks like and what it does." This seems like an essential dichotomy facing us now in an era of hyper-branding and public relations that demands every design has a neatly packaged story and clearly legible "inspiration." (Think: "Freedom Tower" with its functionally-useless but symbolically loaded-height of 1776 ft.) For every design, a metaphor.
In your opinion, has "what it looks like" and "what it means" replaced "what it does" as the dominant driver of design?
Terri gave the final word
It seems that iconic design — design driven by signs, metaphors, and meaning — is what’s most easily sold to news media and a general public that reacts emotionally to sensational stories. Just because this trend is spotlighted and designers have picked up on more “effective” ways to sell their products, however, doesn’t mean the end of function in its more literal meaning. Function (use, social purpose) and emotion (happiness, convenience, etc) still play essential roles in the “what it does” part of design — and perhaps can’t ever be separated. It seems like “what it does” is still an essential starting point more often than not for design, whether it shows up on design blogs or not. We are still making clothing, chairs, buildings, and cities, they just look a little different and often do more. Maybe what it comes down to is a general public that is more aware of signs, symbols, and the meaning of things.
Wednesday, October 6 at 12:57pm