Wednesday, October 04, 2006

DO- Alan Fletcher: Living by Design

A post by Michael Bierut (an excellent design writer) following the recent death of Alan Fletcher, one of Pentagram's founders.

A fond look back at a designer by one who knew, perhaps even idolized, him. Bierut sums up Fletcher's ideas about design by using direct quotes. Number one, "'every job has to have an idea.'" Number two, "'[T]he designer should have no preconceived graphic style.'" Number three, design is not a craft, but a way of life. "'I'd sooner do the same on Monday or Wednesday as I do on a Saturday or Sunday. I don't divide my life between labour and pleasure.'"

The first two are strived for in the profession–the ability to have high concept and change style to accommodate an idea, leaving wiggle room to follow visual trends and fads. The third, however, is something given lip service in the trade but not necessarily followed.

Let's say doing something you like to do as your job is a given. Is it as important to you as your family or your free time? Do you love it just as much as spending time at the beach, the bar, your friend's house, the movies, an art gallery, your much as your significant other, your kids?

In some ways, it makes sense to say you have to. You work 40 hours a week, 8 hours a day. You spend an hour, give or take, getting ready and going to work, take an hour lunch, and an hour getting home an unwinding. There goes 11 hours of your day. Sleep 8. You spent just 5 hours of that day doing what you want (making dinner, getting the kids to do their homework and go to bed, etc.)

At home, you directly impact your family. Is that the most important thing you do? How many people do you influence? 1-2.5 people? At work, you use your mind to influence as many people as you can. And you do it on a daily basis. As far as society is concerned, this will have the most lasting impact; influencing American decision making on things as diverse as politics to the toasters they buys.

Are you as proud of your work life as your home life? Let's make a parallel. At work, I spend 10% of my time doing pro bono works, helping those who need help. 75% of the time, I don't do wrong. I promote consummerism a little, helping people get products I think are at least adequate to the task–far be it for me to rip someone off with my designs. Then, 15% percent of the time, I sell Hummers to soccer moms and redesign oil corporations' logos to look environmentally friendly.

Now, I take this same mentality home. 10 percent of the time, I talk to my significant other as an equal I love, teach life lessons to my children, and go next door to help my handicapped mother use the restroom. 75% of the time I laze on the couch, encourage my children towards mediocrity, and try to call my parents every couple of weeks–trying not to ask them for money more than once a month. 15% of the time I beat my children furiously with a stick because they pissed my significant other off and, obviously, she paid me good money to make it hurt.

Now, my design attitude and my life attitude are one.


Blogger Professor Melis said...

I'm confused! Either you wrote the last several paragraphs or you need to tell me more about what you think about what Beirut wrote--pretty provoking! Thanks!

9:28 PM  
Blogger Timspeak said...

The top couple of paragraphs are summary of what Bierut wrote–if anyone wants to read more about Fletcher click the headline link.

The rest of it was where I wanted to take it. The percentages are not an average I found–I just made them up.


9:02 AM  

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