A few weeks ago we had a lecture delivered to us by Marc Jackson, the head of design at Newport University. The lecture is entitled ‘What is Design?’ but focus’ on both art and design. Created to make us ‘design’ students think about the art and design world at current, are both still as important as each other? What is design now? Will is change in the upcoming years? He began the lecture by asking us to think about the differences between ‘art’ and ‘design’, which before now, I’d never really thought about.
What Happened to Art?
“A designers job is to problem solve” Mark stated, explaining that art doesn’t really have a purpose any more like it used to, and that designs have a “belief in making things better, creating improvements and progress”. I feel art is now more of conversation starter, or a thought provoker rather than a ‘problem solver’ like design. He spoke about the last piece of art he truly enjoyed, Michael Landy’s “Breakdown” – an exhibition where Landy made a large statement about the current capitalist world by shredding every single item that he owned (pictured left). He went back to square one of having nothing, just to make an impact and make people think about how much we rely on materialised goods. Mark stated that this was the last piece of art that truly made an impact of him. Perhaps we’re just immune to these now more common acts of display?
We’re all stuck in a post-mordern time, where most of the population don’t believe in anything, Mark being a key example as he explained he doesn’t believe in religion, politics, art etc. This means we have less of a need for ‘thought provoking’ art and exhibitions – we a much more practical nation, out to make things more simple and effective. He told us he was “proud to be a designer”, a problem solver, someone who helps the community. Art is no longer seen in that way, and sometime causes more bother than a help in society.
There are a number of examples of ‘good design’ that has been created to make our lives simpler, or easier. Helvetica is something that we all see, everyday of our lives, often without noticing. It is the font used for hundreds of different companies (such as orange, M&S etc) sign posts, advertising, posters, it’s everywhere. It’s used of it’s easy to read style, simplicity, and aesthetic values – everything ‘design’ was described to us. (However as a side note it’s now becoming outdated as it is so over-used, see image to right).
The second main example of good recent design is the London Underground maps. Something that has become an iconic design. Created in the 1960’s the design still bears a strong resemblance to current modern-day map. It was a design that made near hundreds of thousands of lives so much easier – travelling the London Underground was made easy, for British and International visitors.
When presented with these two iconic design pieces, no one could name the designer. Something I find strange about design. The people behind it don’t become figuratively famous, as designers don’t tend to put a name to their work. Everyone can recognize a piece of Banksy artwork, or a Mondrian painting, but when it comes to knowing the main designer behind the Bic Pen, we all go quiet.
What is art now?
Personally, I believe art will always have a purpose in our lives. As I previously stated, it’s thought provoking and eye catching, often used to get a significant message across. A key example of this is the following photograph I found on a ‘Photo of the Day’ website [link]. It’s artistic, powerful and thought provoking, thus making a good and constructive use of art, but still not necessarily ‘solving’ anything, however it still makes an impact upon us.
Art will always be used to create emotion, draw attention and educate people. However in a world where we need change, and quick, perhaps design is the push we need to focus on.
Once I have graduated I will see myself as a designer, I’ve never been an artist, it’s just not how I work. However right now, I feel I’m still a trainee in the design world, as I’ve not quite yet found my own feet (or design style). I think the design world is a much more exciting place than the fine art world, as it’s more-so based around logic and problem solving (I know this is a strong statement, but I’m thinking more personal than overall), we need to use all aspects of our mind, our creative side to attract attention, yet our logical side to make things easy to understand, to make our lives more simple – to design.
New problems will evolve for designers to solve. There will always be work as nothing can be made perfect, we can only predict so much into the future, and will never no what we need until the time arrives. 70 years ago we were designing to be cost efficient as we were in the middle of WW2, however the main current focus is to be environmentally friendly.We’ll come across new design problems such as the population demographic as we now have more over 40’s than under, the main market will change. Design will be forever alive, constantly changing, and although you can say the same about art, I believe design has a more important part to play on our homes, lives and world.