I found the Goldsmiths stand 15 minutes before I had to leave for work. Can’t tell you how much I regret that! When I came in, I found them singing a song that they had written in response to a brief. The brief was something along the lines of ‘help me file my stuff because I’m really messy’. I love it that they wrote a song instead of designing a filing cabinet, which is what most students at New Designers would do. I think I’d be more likely to write a song than design a filing cabinet for that sort of problem now too – I’ve been Goldsmithsified! I don’t think other designers quite understand the value of that thinking.
I’m going to say it now. I think some design students make the problem they design for worse. There was more than one ‘leave a message for your family’ design. Really, who is going to use that? If the problem is the lack communication with your family members, don’t give them an object that they are not going to use. They’re going to have to make a concious effort to change their routines just to make the object work and it’s not going to change that much within the family. These students have designed nuisances if anything. It would be much better to find a non-material way of getting a family to communicate, and if materials are used, they should be secondary to the system.
Design students are using the thinking they have been given, so I can’t blame them too much. But I can blame the education system. Ask a doctor to cure a mental illness and he’ll give you pills – ask a therapist the same thing and he’ll give you therapy. People can only answer with what they know. Unfortunately many design students simply don’t know enough to give good answers.
This spiel isn’t deviation – I’m trying to explain the value of Goldsmiths.
They had computers in the corner, inviting people to write them briefs – ‘wiki-briefs’. They designed on the spot. The point of their show was to demonstrate process rather than their final projects. As a result, they probably don’t get any contacts for business, but they show the design world how else design can be (or at least they try – most people are too afraid of the unconventionality or just dismiss it as trying too hard to be different).
I’m not quite sure how this disproves that Goldsmiths is pretentious! But if you ask them then I’m sure they’d rationalize it. ‘If you can’t make it, then fake it by over-explaining it’ – many Goldsmiths people do that. I think there are lots of pretentious people in Goldsmiths – the over-explainers. But there are some unpretentious ones too.
As I left they had started a new brief which was something like ‘Design something for the grey pound. Must be to do with cats, humorous, and cute.’ Full story on their website.
I’m looking forward to doing New Designers next year hugely! I hope we’ll have as much fun as they seemed to have. Being a designer is great!