Design or Pornography

March 28 2013

Occa­sion­ally we debate whether some­thing should be clas­si­fied as design or art. We decide if the cre­ator was acting as a designer or simply an artist, imply­ing the latter is weaker and less desir­able.

When we dimin­ish someone’s else work to art, we’re claim­ing there is noth­ing more to it than its looks, imply­ing if it were design”, it would have a deeper mean­ing. Alter­na­tively, when we ele­vate work to art, we’re claim­ing it came to exis­tence by an unknown, black magic. We’re using the same word to describe both a good and bad thing. (Youssef Sarhan talks about this prac­tice in this recent arti­cle.)

The ques­tion should not be if a piece is art or some­thing else, but rather, we should ask if the piece holds mean­ing beyond its aes­thet­ics. Is it worth more than the obvi­ous, or is its only value in its cos­met­ics?

Pornog­ra­phy doesn’t try to hide what it is. In essence, porn has one pur­pose: to get the viewer really excited (to under­state it). There is no con­cep­tual mean­ing in what’s hap­pen­ing. What you see is exactly what you get. When we create some­thing while ignor­ing its pur­pose, our cre­ation becomes noth­ing more than pornog­ra­phy.

Design is always based on some­thing deeper than the obvi­ous. Accord­ing to Mas­simo Vignelli, There is no design with­out dis­ci­pline. There is no dis­ci­pline with­out intel­li­gence.” In designed work, there’s always another level to what’s on the sur­face.

In our work, we shouldn’t focus on the super­fi­cial, but rather, focus on some­thing deeper. Aim for par­tic­u­lar goals and solve spe­cific prob­lems; by doing so, we’ll drive people to extreme excite­ment, because it works well, not just because it looks cool.