Design, Words and History
Authors: Tomes, Anne; Armstrong, Peter
Source: The Design Journal, Volume 6, Number 1, March 2003 , pp. 14-22(9)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Journals (formerly Berg Journals)
Abstract:Every dominant movement in art has depended upon the development of an accompanying critical discourse. Using the writings of design critics and design journalists, this paper suggests that there are similar, albeit under-developed, discursive dimensions to the reception of innovative design. Critics, advertisers and commentators offer vocabularies of appreciation analogous to the critical discourses of artistic avant-gardes. These suggest the manner in which a design should be used or experienced, the nature of experiences that should follow, and the discontents with earlier forms that inspired it.
A major implication is that the lukewarm enthusiasm of the UK public for good design is unlikely to be overcome simply by exposure to it. Good design, of some kinds at least, can no more be expected to speak for itself than good art. It needs to be approached with some understanding of what it sets out to do, what is to be gained by engaging with it, motivated where appropriate by a new sensitivity to the shortcomings of what went before. Except amongst those already inclined to value design innovation, such frames of mind are unlikely to arise spontaneously. They depend on the promulgation of appropriate vocabularies of appreciation from within the relevant design communities, and these, like the discourses of modern art, will need to possess a critical and historical dimension.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2003-03-01