I’ve been reading a fair number of critical essays on the current state of (graphic) design this week, and yesterday I found myself slowly descending into a manic mental hole where, completely overstimulated, I couldn’t get a grip on what I agreed and disagreed with. I couldn’t quiet my mind. Not great for sound sleep.
Almost universally, the essays called for an increase in critical practice, a lambasting of the “old guard” (think: Pentagram, et. al) for thinking too archaically in this modern era, and a disregard for formalism of any kind. However, this morning I woke up with a clearer recognition of the large hole in this critical theory that had been bumping around in the back of my mind; I had seen no acknowledgment of the graphic designer (particularly, the brand designer) as the translator of a client’s own self-perception. While we like to think of communication design as a two-party process (client -> designer -> audience, or simply designer -> audience), in fact the process can more often than not be client -> designer -> client. A huge part of our particular responsibility is clarifying who clients are to themselves. Sometimes designers are mirrors, not bullhorns. More comprehensive thoughts on this to come.