From the C-Word to the D-Word

Designers must take care of the words we use to talk about our work.

Portrait of Erik Spiekermann Erik Spiekermann Berlin Followers: 379

Comments:
4
Votes:
16
Compartir:

When I started to make a living by designing printed pages 35 years ago, I never wasted any thoughts about whether I had now become a «creative». And I’ve always refused to accept the bonus attached to that status, as it usually means that clients don’t give «creative» work much credit when they want solutions to real problems.

Design is an intellectual activity, followed by the application of manual and technical skills. In our work, we use artistic means, like sketching, drawing, painting even. We do not, however, visualize our own ideas, but put our heads and hands at the service of our clients. It is that existential issue that distinguishes us from artists, not so much the «creative» process. The c-word has been used so often, that by now it has come to describe all those activities that cannot be described with reasonable words. Everybody wants to be creative – simply keeping their collar unbuttoned seems to signify creativity for a lot of people. That’s why I avoid the c-word when describing our work.

We do not create; we talk, research, write, apply, program, document: we make stuff. By now, many colleagues won’t go near the c-word. A large design studio couldn’t possibly create – that wouldn’t justify professional day rates. Instead, «creative solutions» are being «developed»; a logo is developed, a process, a Corporate Design. The d-word sounds more like proper scientific work. It conjures up images of endless days in badly aired rooms where great solutions are developed from simple briefs.

Basic elements are developed, then applications, documentations, templates. Usually in the passive form, as that avoids taking sides, owning up to the results of the work. Nobody can be blamed, because the d-word implies an unstoppable process, its outcome being inevitable. I must admit that the painfully slow progress of a design proposal through the hierarchies of decision making in any large corporation can often only be described by the d-word. But what am I to make of a caption like this one (recently seen in a design competition): «Development of a single color address label?»

What do you think? Share your comments right now! We need your help to continue producing free content. Consider supporting the work of FOROALFA with a donation of any value in PayPal.


Portrait of Erik Spiekermann Erik Spiekermann Berlin Followers: 379

Comments:
4
Votes:
16
Compartir:

Help to spread this article by translating it

Translate to italian Translate to portuguese

This article was previously published in Form magazine.

QR code for access to article From the C-Word to the D-Word

This article does not express the opinion of the editors and managers of FOROALFA, who assume no responsibility for its authorship and nature. To republish, except as specifically indicated, please request permission to author. Given the gratuity of this site and the hyper textual condition of the Web, we will be grateful if you avoid reproducing this article on other websites.

Erik Spiekermann

More articlesbyErik Spiekermann

Title:
It’s Showtime
Synopsis:
Good and bad Powerpoint.
Share:
Title:
Logos to Go
Synopsis:
Corporate identity design is changing. There are designers for whom quantity matters more than quality.
Share:
Title:
The Seventh Commandment
Synopsis:
The tribute, robbery and theft of authorship, have blurred boundaries in the design practice.
Share:

Debate

 logo
Your comment

Login with your account to comment on this article. If you do not have it, create your free account now.

Portrait of Joaquín Eduardo Sánchez Mercado
562
Joaquín Eduardo Sánchez Mercado
Jul 2014

Not all design activities are equal, not all require the same grade of objectivity and racionality, design is not a science, some designs require some grade of fresh fantasy, innovation, emotion, estetic, without lose your feet. Maybe your type of design you are making require more racionalism than others activities, but I canʼt imagine this world if all design were made only for utility functions. A world without emotion, without estetics, without art, without "creativity".

0
Portrait of Alejandro Valencia
28
Alejandro Valencia
Jul 2014

si el diseño es o no una ciencia, es un debate abierto te anticipas al darle portazo, en el libro "las ciencias de lo artificial" puedes tomar nota. el juego, el esparcimiento, etc. son funciones útiles, la diversidad y la riqueza cultural, hay que tener cuidado con la"magia" de la palabra "creación", no sea, que actué en nuestra contra.

0
Reply
Portrait of Fernando Casas
22
Fernando Casas
Jul 2014

I canʼt believe there are almost no comments to this article. (I guess the language didnʼt help, although there is a translation). Designers DO NOT create, although there is always this romantic aura we wrap ourselves in, thinking that it is divine inspiration what guide us, and therefore, no one else can do our job.

Iʼd like to thank the author for hitting the nail in the head. It is a shame that this article got ignored.

0
Reply
Portrait of Joaquin Varas
2
Joaquin Varas
Ene 2014

I would say that designers both create and develop, not out of nothing but thanks to our training, knowledge and experience. I think we should just cut the chase, and call what we do designing, because thatʼs what stands in the middle, between creating and developing.

0
Reply

Might interest you

Main illustration of the article Logo Functions
Author:
Luciano Cassisi
Title:
Logo Functions
Synopsis:
Not all logos are used for the same purposes. Knowing in detail the functions that they must fulfill, is essential to design them well.
Translations:
Share:
Interactions:
Votes:
16
Comments:
4
Followers:
1607
Portrait of Fernando Del Vecchio
Author:
Fernando Del Vecchio
Title:
And where are the opportunities?
Synopsis:
Somebody has a problem and somebody has the answer to that problem, but... ¿How can we do to meet this couple?
Translations:
Share:
Interactions:
Votes:
3
Followers:
763
Main illustration of the article Some ideas are too big
Author:
Fernando Del Vecchio
Title:
Some ideas are too big
Synopsis:
We all have ideas. Some have great ideas. What is the difference between an idea and a big idea?
Translations:
Share:
Interactions:
Votes:
3
Followers:
763
Portrait of Norberto Chaves
Author:
Norberto Chaves
Title:
Design and message credibility
Synopsis:
Communicates' design as a mean to the conquest of plausibility: sender and referent transparency.
Translations:
Share:
Interactions:
Votes:
10
Followers:
3502
Portrait of André Ricard
Author:
André Ricard
Title:
Craftsmanship and design
Synopsis:
Craftsmanship can not be limited to reproduce past tools and essentials. There is a minor market of handmade products that design should attend to.
Translations:
Share:
Interactions:
Votes:
0
Followers:
478
Portrait of Alfredo Gutiérrez Borrero
Author:
Alfredo Gutiérrez Borrero
Title:
Realities and Conventions
Synopsis:
Even though we refuse to accept it, there is indeed life in other brains: the culture of scorn harms us designers.
Translations:
Share:
Interactions:
Votes:
1
Followers:
282