Dear Sir/Madam

I just received an email at my Topoware email address starting with “dear sir/madam” expecting it to be spam and horrified at discovering it was a recent graduate who was sending me his cv and portfolio.

Horror! Shock!

So I couldn’t let it be, I HAD to reply and I did, trying desperately not to be too rude. But commmoooooooonnnnnn, isn’t business development part of any design course in the world yet? Oh, and it’s called “the internet”, put your portfolio online for god’s sake! And do me a favor and click on the “who we are” or “contact” or “about” and figure out the name of who you’re trying to reach to at least start your letter with “dear Alexandra”

The only type of communication for which that particular form is still valid, is if I’m filling in my tax return or writing to the gaz company and desperately can’t find the name of the head of the department.

Politics and education in art and design

“We expect art to be shocking, extreme.” say Dunne and Raby.

I think it might be the other way around sometimes though, art tries to be just art, and we somehow decide to take it personally. Maybe because it’s one of the last uncommercialisable and don’t-have-to-be-politically-friendly forms of expression. Maybe because you can’t call the cops because you’re being personally offended by what’s being displayed.

Or can you?

For example, if you try to exhibit a chocolate Jesus at Easter, well your show might be canceled.

Or if you’re not of the same ethnic background as the person you’re sculpting you might have people protesting to the government.

I’ve written a lot about design and education in my interviews lately and I feel that the same education also applies to art. To understand art and it’s value, it’s value as a commentary, a personal vision, a stance is something that is taught. To understand the value of the design methodologies to better a business, see the potential in an idea, think out of the box about a certain problem, needs education as well. But what does it take in North America to achieve that when european dry design is met with suspicion.

Being a young country, maybe North America hasn’t been exposed as much as Europe has to a history of art. Growing up in Paris, I was taught art history at age 7 and knew my Gauguin from my Seurat. I doubt you could say the same from most young kids now.

In the UK, a few years ago the Design Council was involved in an endeavor to push design classes to take place in primary schools. I hope that comes back as a part of the national curriculum, as Denmark did with user-centered design.

The earlier you learn about the value, place and potential of art and design in the world, the less likely you are to grow up to be the kind of adult who calls up your local council with a petition because someone’s exhibiting an egg-shaped baby.

A little something about Dutch

Although this might seem trivial, I find this really interesting. This video, promoting a dutch language school by “teaching” the audience swear words, actually doesn’t touch upon what’s so unique about them in the first place: references to diseases. Because of their long history of self-preservation and survival, the worst thing to say to someone at the time was to wish them cancer or syphilis.

This dilution of their own cultural uniqueness to cater to an international audience is really fascinating. Afraid of being misunderstood, they would rather revert to teaching how to say “asshole” then “may you be struck with gangrene”.

Language separated from culture.

Sleep less indeed

Went to see Design products show from the RCA (headed by Ron Arad) and I have to say I think the general trend in product design master’s is to make designers become more and more conceptual to the point of hovering in a grey area between art and design.

In any case, I wasn’t moved by the work at all, only by this little girl sleeping in one of the projects. I’d like to see one day a product design exhibition that includes people in it, and not photoshopped ones.