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Design Is Dead. Philippe Starck Says So. Again.


It’s deja vu all over again for me but Philippe Starck just told a German magazine Die Zeit that “I was a producer of materiality and I am ashamed of this fact.Everything I designed was unnecessary. I will definitely give up in two years’ time. I want to do something else, but I don’t know what yet. I want to find a new way of expressing myself …design is a dreadful form of expression…. In future there will be no more designers. The designers of the future will be the personal coach, the gym trainer, the diet consultant.”

It’s almost a year ago to the day that I ran a blog item saying Starck was declaring design dead. Then Starck was at TED complaining about design’s failures to deal with the current world. His words fit into my speech at Parsons saying that Designers Were the Enemy of Design.

I don’t know what’s up with Starck. I suspect that with sustainability reaching the tipping point as the global culture—and with the global economy tipping into recession—the kind of design excess that Starck does is revolting even Starck.

But design is wonderfully alive and well—and evolving fast. The tools and methods that were once the exclusive province of a handful of designers are now in the hands of

millions of people who are shaping their own experiences on Facebook and MySpace, much less on the cell phones. This democratization of design, the open-sourcing of design is driving much of the field.

Apple is pretty good at controlling the design of its products, but it too is giving in and opening up the design of applications to the iPhone platform.

I think the meta-trend is all of this is IDENTITY. It's the next Big Thing after Experience and Emotion. We are increasingly intent on designing our own identities by interracting with others in social networks and framing ourselves to the world--including. and maybe especially, the advertising world. Get our permission to market to us, learn who we are, join our space if you can or create one we enjoy being in.

People used to allow big institutions to identify them, to frame them. Newspapers, schools, churches, governments. Now they want to engage within those institutions--or create new ones--to actively build their own identities and frame themselves.

There will always be room for the Starcks and Rems of the world. The good news is that they are being joined by millions of others who want to be Brand Me. And right, many don't like the consumer excess that so many big-brand designers represent.


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