# The Edenspiekermann Manifesto
1. We don’t do good work.
2. Good work is not enough; we need to do great work.
3. We invent new tools.
4. That may mean throwing out the old toolbox.
5. We need inspiration to inspire.
6. Share your experiences, ideas, failures, successes.
7. We tolerate failure.
8. Failure is part of the process.
9. We collaborate.
10. Collaboration does not mean consensus.
11. We generate ideas.
12. Idea generation is not idea selection.
13. We like making stuff.
14. Useful, beautiful, important things.
15. We dare say no.
16. Saying yes is often just laziness.
17. We like surprises.
18. We have to mistrust our own routines.
19. It’s your company, too.
20. If something can be done better, don’t wait for permission.
Begin with ideas.
Ad–lib and make things up.
Eliminate superfluous elements.
Make something difficult look easy.
Be first or last.
Believe complex ideas can produce simple things.
Trust the process.
Allow concepts to determine form.
Reduce material and production to their essence.
Sustain the integrity of an idea.
Propose honesty as a solution.
# Ten principles for good design
1. Good design is innovative.
The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.
2. Good design makes a product useful.
A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasises the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.
3. Good design is aesthetic.
The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products we use every day affect our person and our well-being. But only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
4. Good design makes a product understandable.
It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory.
5. Good design is unobtrusive.
Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
6. Good design is honest.
It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
7. Good design is long-lasting.
It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.
8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail.
Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
9. Good design is environmentally friendly.
Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
10. Good design is as little design as possible.
Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.
# Fuck Committees
(I believe in lunatics)
It’s about the struggle between individuals with jagged passion in their work and today’s faceless corporate committees, which claim to understand the needs of the mass audience, and are removing the idiosyncrasies, polishing the jags, creating a thought-free, passion-free, cultural mush that will not be hated nor loved by anyone. By now, virtually all media, architecture, product and graphic design have been freed from ideas, individual passion, and have been relegated to a role of corporate servitude, carrying out corporate strategies and increasing stock prices. Creative people are now working for the bottom line.
Magazine editors have lost their editorial independence, and work for committees of publishers (who work for committees of advertisers). TV scripts are vetted by producers, advertisers, lawyers, research specialists, layers and layers of paid executives who determine whether the scripts are dumb enough to amuse what they call the ‘lowest common denominator’. Film studios out films in front of focus groups to determine whether an ending will please target audiences. All cars look the same. Architectural decisions are made by accountants. Ads are stupid. Theater is dead.
Corporations have become the sole arbiters of cultural ideas and taste in America. Our culture is corporate culture.Culture used to be the opposite of commerce, not a fast track to ‘content’- derived riches. Not so long ago captains of industry (no angels in the way they acquired wealth) thought that part of their responsibility was to use their millions to support culture. Carnegie built libraries, Rockefeller built art museums, Ford created his global foundation. What do we now get from our billionaires? Gates? Or Eisner? Or Redstone? Sales pitches. Junk mail. Meanwhile, creative people have their work reduced to ‘content’ or ‘intellectual property’. Magazines and films become ‘delivery systems’ for product messages.
But to be fair, the above is only 99 percent true.
I offer a modest solution: Find the cracks in the wall. There are a very few lunatic entrepreneurs who will understand that culture and design are not about fatter wallets, but about creating a future. They will understand that wealth is means, not an end. Under other circumstances they may have turned out to be like you, creative lunatics. Believe me, they’re there and when you find them, treat them well and use their money to change the world.
# The Vignelli Canon
I have always said that there are three aspects in Design that are important to me: Semantic, Syntactic and Pragmatic.
Let’s examine them one at the time. Semantics, for me, is the search of the meaning of whatever we have to design. The very first thing that I do whenever I start a new assignment in any form of design, graphic, product, exhibition or interior is to search for the meaning of it. That may start with research on the history of the subject to better understand the nature of the project and to find the most appropriate direction for the development of a new design.
Depending on the subject the search can take many directions. It could be a search for more information about the Company, the Product, the Market Position of the subject, the Competition, its Destination, the final user, or indeed, about the real meaning of the subject and its semantic roots.
It is extremely important for a satisfactory result of any design to spend time on the search of the accurate and essential meanings, investigate their complexities, learn about their ambiguities, understand the context of use to better define the parameters within which we will have to operate. In addition to that it is useful to follow our intuition and our diagnostic ability to funnel the research and arrive to a rather conscious definition of the problem at hand.
Semantics are what will provide the real bases for a correct inception of projects, regardless of what they may be. Semantics eventually become an essential part of the designer’s being, a crucial component of the natural process of design, and the obvious point of departure for designing. Semantics will also indicate the most appropriate form for that particular subject that we can interpret or transform according to our intentions. However, it is important to distill the essence of the semantic search through a complex process, most of which is intuitive, to infuse the design with all the required cognitive inputs, effortlessly and in the most natural way possible. It is as in music, when we hear the final sound, without knowing all the processes through which the composer has gone before reaching the final result. Design without semantics is shallow and meaningless but, unfortunately it is also ubiquitous, and that is why it is so important that young designers train themselves to start the design process in the correct way—the only way that can most enrich their design.
Semantics, in design, means to understand the subject in all its aspects; to relate the subject to the sender and the receiver in such a way that it makes sense to both. It means to design something that has a meaning, that is not arbitrary, that has a reason for being, something in which every detail carries the meaning or has a precise purpose aimed at a precise target. How often we see design that has no meaning: stripes and swash of color splashed across pages for no reason whatsoever. Well, they are either meaningless or incredibly vulgar or criminal when done on purpose.
Unfortunately, there are designers and marketing people who intentionally look down on the consumer with the notion that vulgarity has a definite appeal to the masses, and therefore they supply the market with a continuos flow of crude and vulgar design. I consider this action criminal since it is producing visual pollution that is degrading our environment just like all other types of pollution. Not all forms of vernacular communication are necessarily vulgar, although very often that is the case. Vulgarity implies a blatant intention of a form of expression that purposely ignores and bypasses any form of established culture. In our contemporary world it becomes increasingly more difficult to find honest forms of vernacular communication as once existed in the pre–industrial world.
Mies, my great mentor said: “God is in the details.” That is the essence of syntax: the discipline that controls the proper use of grammar in the construction of phrases and the articulation of a language, Design. The syntax of design is provided by many components in the nature of the project. In graphic design, for instance, they are the overall structure, the grid, the typefaces, the text and headlines, the illustrations, etc. The consistency of a design is provided by the appropriate relationship of the various syntactical elements of the project: how type relates to grids and images from page to page throughout the whole project. Or, how type sizes relate to each other. Or, how pictures relate to each other and how the parts relate to the whole. There are ways to achieve all this that are correct, as there are others that are incorrect, and should be avoided.
Syntactic consistency is of paramount importance in graphic design as it is in all human endeavors. Grids are one of the several tools helping designers to achieve syntactical consistency in graphic design.
Whatever we do, if not understood, fails to communicate and is wasted effort.
We design things which we think are semantically correct and syntactically consistent but if, at the point of fruition, no one understands the result, or the meaning of all that effort, the entire work is useless. Sometimes it may need some explanation but it is better when not necessary. Any artifact should stand by itself in all its clarity. Otherwise, something really important has been missed. The final look of anything is the by–product of the clarity (or lack of it) during its design phase. It is important to understand the starting point and all assumptions of any project to fully comprehend the final result and measure its efficiency. Clarity of intent will translate in to clarity of result and that is of paramount importance in Design. Confused, complicated designs reveal an equally confused and complicated mind. We love complexities but hate complications!
Having said this, I must add that we like Design to be forceful. We do not like limpy design. We like Design to be intellectually elegant—that means elegance of the mind, not one of manners, elegance that is the opposite of vulgarity. We like Design to be beyond fashionable modes and temporary fads. We like Design to be as timeless as possible.
We despise the culture of obsolescence. We feel the moral imperative of designing things that will last for a long time.
It is with this set of values that we approach Design everyday, regardless of what it may be: two or three dimensional, large or small, rich or poor. Design is One!
The attention to details requires discipline. There is no room for sloppiness, for carelessness, for procrastination. Every detail is important because the end result is the sum of all the details involved in the creative process no matter what we are doing. There are no hierarchies when it comes to quality. Quality is there or is not there, and if is not there we have lost our time. It is a commitment and a continuously painstaking effort of the creative process to which we should abide. That is Discipline and without it there is no good design, regardless of its style.
Discipline is a set of self imposed rules, parameters within which we operate. It is a bag of tools that allows us to design in a consistent manner from beginning to end. Discipline is also an attitude that provides us with the capacity of controlling our creative work so that it has continuity of intent throughout rather than fragmentation. Design without discipline is anarchy, an exercise of irresponsibility.
The notion of appropriateness is consequent to what I have expressed. Once we search the roots of whatever we have to design we are also defining the area of possible solutions that are appropriate—specific to that particular problem. Actually, we can say that appropriateness is the search for the specific of any given problem. To define that prevents us from taking wrong directions, or alternative routes that lead to nowhere or even worse, to wrong solutions.
Appropriateness directs us to the right kind of media, the right kind of materials, the right kind of scale, the right kind of expression, color and texture. Appropriateness elicits the enthusiastic approval of the client seeing the solution to his problem. Appropriateness transcends any issue of style—there are many ways of solving a problem, many ways of doing, but the relevant thing is that, no matter what, the solution must be appropriate. I think that we have to listen to what a thing wants to be, rather then contrive it in to an arbitrary confinement. However, sometimes there may be other rules that one must follow to achieve the correct level of continuity.
At least for me, this is a relevant issue which very often determines the look of the project to be designed. This issue is one of the fundamental principles of our Canon. During the post–modern time, the verb ‘to be appropriate’ assumed the meaning of borrowing something and transforming it by placing it in a different context. We could say that this kind of ‘appropriation’ when appropriate, could be done—just another way of solving a problem or expressing creativity.
Rather than the negative connotation of ambiguity as a form of vagueness, I have a positive interpretation of ambiguity, intended as a plurality of meanings, or the ability of conferring to an object or a design, the possibility of being read in different ways—each one complementary to the other to enrich the subject and give more depth. We often use this device to enhance the expression of the design and we treasure the end results. However, one has to be cautious in playing with ambiguity because if not well measured it can backfire with unpleasant results. Contradiction can sometimes reinforce ambiguity, but more often it is a sign of discontinuity and lack of control. Ambiguity and contradiction can enrich a project but can equally sink the end results.
Therefore, great caution is recommended in using these spices.
Design Is One.
The office of the Castiglioni Architects in Milano was the first place, where at the age of 16, I went to work as a draftsman. They were active in the whole field of Design and Architecture following the Adolph Loos dictum that an Architect should be able to design everything “from the spoon to the city.” They had already designed a very iconic radio, beautiful silver flatware, camping furniture, witty stools, industrial bookshelves, nice houses and an incredible museum. Later they designed restaurants, trade shows, exhibitions, furniture and much more. They became the icons of Italian Design. I strongly recommend to all designers to investigate and study their work. I was tremendously impressed by the diversity of projects and immediately fascinated by the Architect’s possibility of working in so many different areas. I discovered that what is important is to master a design discipline to be able to design anything, because that is what is essential and needed on every project.
Design is one—it is not many different ones. The discipline of Design is one and can be applied to many different subjects, regardless of style. Design discipline is above and beyond any style. All style requires discipline in order to be expressed. Very often people think that Design is a particular style. Nothing could be more wrong! Design is a discipline, a creative process with its own rules, controlling the consistency of its output toward its objective in the most direct and expressive way.
Throughout my life I have hunted opportunities to diversify my design practice: from glass to metal, from wood to pottery to plastics, from printing to packaging, from furniture to interiors, from clothing to costumes, from exhibitions to stage design and more. Everything was, and still is, a tempting challenge to test the interaction between intuition and knowledge, between passion and curiosity, between desire and success.
We say all the time that we like Design to be visually powerful. We cannot stand Design that is weak in concept, form, color, texture or any or all of them. We think good Design is always an expression of creative strength bringing forward clear concepts expressed in beautiful form and color, where every element expresses the content in the most forceful way. There are infinite possibilities to achieve a powerful expression. In graphic design, for instance, difference of scale within the same page can give a very strong impact. Bold type contrasting with light type creates visually dynamic impressions. We have used this approach successfully in our graphic design.
In three dimensional design, manipulating light through different textures and materials gives infinite and effective results. Changing scale and contrasting sizes provide an impressive array of possibilities.
It is essential that a design is imbued with visual strength and unique presence to achieve its purpose. Visual strength can be achieved also by using delicate layouts or materials. Visual strength is an expression of intellectual elegance and should never be confused with just visual impact—which, most of the time, is just an expression of visual vulgarity and obtrusiveness.
Visual power is, in any event, a subject which deserves great attention to achieve effective design.
We often talk about Intellectual Elegance, not to be confused with the elegance of manners and mores. For me, intellectual elegance is the sublime level of intelligence which has produced all the masterpieces in the history of mankind.
It is the elegance we find in Greek statues, in Renaissance paintings, in the sublime writings of Goethe, and many great creative minds.
It is the elegance of Architecture of any period, the Music of all times, the clarity of Science through the ages. It is the thread that guides us to the best solution of whatever we do. It is the definitive goal of our minds—the one beyond compromises.
It elevates the most humble artifact to a noble stand. Intellectual elegance is also our civic consciousness, our social responsibility, our sense of decency, our way of conceiving Design, our moral imperative. Again, it is not a design style, but the deepest meaning and the essence of Design.
We are definitively against any fashion of design and any design fashion. We despise the culture of obsolescence, the culture of waste, the cult of the ephemeral. We detest the demand of temporary solutions, the waste of energies and capital for the sake of novelty.
We are for a Design that lasts, that responds to people’s needs and to people’s wants. We are for a Design that is committed to a society that demands long lasting values. A society that earns the benefit of commodities and deserves respect and integrity.
We like the use of primary shapes and primary colors because their formal values are timeless. We like a typography that transcends subjectivity and searches for objective values, a typography that is beyond times—that doesn’t follow trends, that reflects its content in an appropriate manner. We like economy of design because it avoids wasteful exercises, it respects investment and lasts longer. We strive for a Design that is centered on the message rather than visual titillation. We like Design that is clear, simple and enduring. And that is what timelessness means in Design.
In graphic design the issue of responsibility assumes particular importance as a form of economic awareness toward the most appropriate solution to a given problem.
Too often we see printed works produced in a lavish manner just to satisfy the ego of designers or clients. It is important that an economically appropriate solution is used and is one that takes in proper consideration all the facets of the problem.
As much as this may seem obvious it is one of the most overlooked issues by both designers and clients. Responsibility is another form of discipline. As designers, we have three levels of responsibility:
One—to ourselves, the integrity of the project and all its components.
Two—to the Client, to solve the problem in a way that is economically sound and efficient.
Three—to the public at large, the consumer, the user of the final design.
On each one of these levels we should be ready to commit ourselves to reach the most appropriate solution, the one that solves the problem without compromises for the benefit of everyone.
In the end, a design should stand by itself, without excuses, explanations, apologies. It should represent the fulfillment of a successful process in all its beauty. A responsible solution.
Many times we have been asked to design a logo or a symbol for a Company—often at the request of the marketing department to refresh the Company’s position in the marketplace.
Although this may be a legitimate request, very often, it is motivated by the desire of change merely for the sake of change, and that is a very wrong motivation.
A real Corporate Identity is based on an overall system approach, not just a logo.
A logo gradually becomes part of our collective culture; in its modest way it becomes part of all of us. Think of Coca Cola, think of Shell, or, why not, AmericanAirlines. When a logo has been in the public domain for more than fifty years it becomes a classic, a landmark, a respectable entity and there is no reason to throw it away and substitute it with a new concoction, regardless of how well it has been designed.
Perhaps, because I grew up in a country where history and vernacular architecture were part of culture of the territory and was protected, I considered established logos something to be equally protected.
The notion of a logo equity has been with us from the very beginning of time. When we were asked to design a new logo for the FORD Motor Company, we proposed a light retouch of the old one which could be adjusted for contemporary applications. We did the same for Ciga Hotels, Cinzano, Lancia Cars and others. There was no reason to dispose of logos that had seventy years of exposure, and were rooted in people’s consciousness with a set of respectable connotations.
What is new is not a graphic form but a way of thinking, a way of showing respect for history in a context that usually has zero understanding for these values.
# Manifesto Generator
Filip Tyden & Gemma Holt
One of the 18 million
2. Think more, make more
3. Only use black
4. Don’t make compromises for other people
5. Learn to speak up
6. Everything is going to be alright
7. Engage a specialist audience
8. Call your grandparents today
9. Good design is not invisible
10. A manifesto is a formula
Obsessions make my life worse and my work better.
Slavs and Tatars
You can take the Slav out of Bulgaria, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Russia, Serbia, Montenegro, Belarus, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Ukraine and the Czech Republic but you can’t take Bulgaria, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Russia, Serbia, Montenegro, Belarus, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Ukraine and the Czech Republic out of the Slav.
# The cult of Done Manifesto
Bre Pettis and Kio Stark
1. There are three states of being.
Not knowing, action and completion.
2. Accept that everything is a draft.
It helps to get done.
3. There is no editing stage.
4. Pretending you know what you’re doing
is almost the same as knowing what you
are doing, so just accept that you know
what you’re doing even if you don’t
and do it.
5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more
than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
6. The point of being done is not to finish but
to get other things done.
7. Once you’re done you can throw it away.
8. Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps
you from being done.
9. People without dirty hands are wrong.
Doing something makes you right.
10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
11. Destruction is a variant of done.
12. If you have an idea and publish it on the
internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
13. Done is the engine of more.
# The Pesto Manifesto
This is the pesto manifesto; an improvised recipe of sorts. When making pesto, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Must use organic garlic if you live in the 21st Ce.
2. Must use fresh basil from your mom or neighbor’s garden.
3. Must use pine nuts.
4. No food processing allowed.
These are important because pesto is a delicacy that deserves to be made right.
Pasta should not be smothered in mediocrity! Or should it?
1. Become inspired by mediocre productions.
2. Don’t covert production and experimentation recipe.
3. Always leave the edges rough, so that someone can cut themselves.
4. A photoshop’d joke is deep and meaningful.
5. Take the knife to cultural icons and produce: produce the produce for the recipe and destroy the recipe.
6. Follow and muddy up every else’s recipe; pun and play, annihilate and resurrect meaning.
Keep in mind: pesto is delicious when it’s made fresh.
I believe that, whatever design problem you need to solve, you should face it with rationality, logic and careful analysis if you want to get to the right idea.
Graphic design is always a synthetic work: you need to reduce and remove until you reach the core of the message. When you work with typography and lettering, the essential goal is to obtain the best possible legibility.
To achieve this result, it is fundamental to know typography and its history. The computer has become an essential tool but its undisputed utility and versatility cannot replace knowledge. As extraordinary as this instrument can be, you need deep roots and the ability to express yourself even with the simplest tools—such as a pencil—in order to use it correctly.
A good software does not necessarily create good graphics.
Graphics is not an independent art, but a service. To obtain a correct result, you need to put yourself on the side of the observer, on the side of the public.
A good designer is the one who offers a good service through communication, not the one who wants to surprise at any cost, neither the one who wants to show how good he is.
A designer is good if he can solve a problem, if he puts forward a useful solution.
I believe that these rules could be a good start for a career in design.
# Disrepresentation Now!
We wrote the following manifesto nine years ago. It was written to function within a very specific context: we were invited to deliver a lecture at the first AIGA “Voice” convention, that was scheduled to take place towards the end of 2001, in Washington DC.
Instead of a lecture, we planned to do something else. During the convention, we wanted to do a series of ‘hand–out sessions’, distributing stickersheets featuring abstract wristbands, nametags and badges. This stickersheet was printed in three different colours (red, blue and red). How we envisioned it, the people attending the convention would wear these abstract stickers, forming three different ‘political parties’ (a red party, a blue party and a black party), creating a sort of site–specific artwork. We were very much inspired by the fact that the convention took place in Washington DC, and wanted to create a work that would refer to political rallies, demonstrations, protests, Democratic and Republic conventions, etc.
On the back of the stickersheet, we printed a manifesto. In retrospect, this manifesto didn’t have a lot to do with the front of the stickersheet. But at that time, we felt the manifesto was necessary, to clarify our views on graphic design. Re–reading the manifesto now, we fully realize the manifesto would sooner confuse our ideas than clarify them.
In the end, it didn’t really matter. We never made it to Washington to hand out the stickersheets. Because of the ‘9/11’ attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the ‘Voice’ conference was cancelled. The stickersheets were already printed by then.
Most of the stickersheets were distributed by AIGA, as part of a mailing. Some stickersheets were enclosed in issue 4 of the magazine Dot Dot Dot. The manifesto was also published by a German magazine called Perspektive, together with an accompanying interview, which was also published by Dot Dot Dot. And that was the end of the manifesto.
Looking at the manifesto now, we see a lot of small things we don’t agree with. First of all, we think the title should have been “Non–representationism” instead of “Disrepresentationism”. Moreover, the categories of ‘representation’ and ‘dis–or non–represenation’ are not really part of our thinking anymore. We also used some other words in the manifesto (‘functionality’ and ‘amoralism’) that we would never use now; in fact, looking back at our body of work, we think our work has been very moralistic, from the very start.
However, re–reading the manifesto, we also see a lot of things we still agree with. For example, we still believe that the political qualities of graphic design are situated foremost in its aesthetic dimension, and not necessarily in the direct message it tries to deliver. Furthermore, we are still very interested in the idea of a graphic design that refers to its own material context. And lastly, after all these years, we would still never work for an advertising agency. So in that sense, we still feel connected to the manifesto.
Experimental Jetset, 15.10.2010
On the social, political, and revolutionary role of graphic design.
More an attempt than a manifesto.
/ Experimental Jetset
/ Washington DC
/ Voice 2001 AIGA
1. In his vicious 1923 manifesto ‘Anti-Tendenzkunst’, architect, artist and De Stijl founder Theo van Doesburg stated that “as obvious as it may sound, there is no structural difference between a painting that depicts Trotsky heading a red army, and a painting that depicts Napoleon heading an imperial army. It is irrelevant whether a piece of art promotes either proletarian or patriotic values”.
This qoute can be easily misunderstood as blatantly apolitical, but in our humble opinion, it is far from that. In Van Doesburg’s view, it doesn’t really matter what a painting depicts; it is the act of depiction itself, the process of representation, that he regards as highly anti-revolutionary.
Van Doesburg and many other modernists saw representative art as inherently bourgeois; suggestive, tendentious and false. Regardless of the subject.
Although formulated almost a century ago, we, as Experimental Jetset, have to admit we feel a certain affinity for Van Doesburg’s ‘anti-tendentious’ ideas.
2. Although at first sight it might seem impossible to differentiate between ‘presentative’ and ‘representative’ graphic design, we do think it is possible to make a distinction of some sort.
For example, it’s hard to deny that most graphic design produced within the context of advertising is inherently representative. No surprise, since the very concept of advertising is one of the purest forms of representation. As per definition, advertising never “is” in itself, it always “is about” something else.
Advertising is a phenomenon that constantly dissolves its own physical appearance, in order to describe and represent appearances other than itself. Whereas presentative graphic design seems to underline its own physical appearance, even when it is referring to subjects other than itself.
3. Having said all this, we like to point out that our criticism of advertising is fundamentally different than the criticism expressed in the 2000 First Things First manifesto. Other than the signatories to that manifesto, we see no structural difference between social, cultural and commercial graphic design. Every cause that is formulated outside of a design context, and superficially imposed on a piece of design, is tendentious, representative, and thus reactionary, whether it deals with corporate interests or social causes.
Likewise, we see no structural difference between advertising and ‘anti-advertising’. The former tries to sell you product X, the latter tells you not to buy product X, but on a fundamental level they are completely alike. They both contribute to what Guy Debord was so fond of referring to as “the society of the spectacle”: a world of representation and alienation.
4. Other representative tendencies in graphic design include the fact that nowadays more and more designers refer to their profession in (immaterial) terms such as ‘visual communication’, ‘information architecture’, etc. These particular notions painfully show the shift in graphic design towards the denial and neglect of its own physical dimensions.
5. In ‘The Republic’, Plato has Socrates tell the allegory of the cave. 2500 years later, we’re still imprisoned in this cave, watching shadows. The only way out of this representative illusion is through presentative culture.The immorality of advertising and the morality of anti-advertising are two sides of the same coin. What we need is a form of graphic design that is neither immoral nor moral, but amoral; that is productive, not reproductive; that is constructive, not parasitic.
We believe that abstraction, a movement away from realism but towards reality, is the ultimate form of engagement. We believe that to focus on the physical dimensions of design, to create a piece of design as a functional entity, as an object in itself, is the most social and political act a designer can perform.
That’s why we believe in color and form, type and spacing, paper and ink, space and time, object and function and, most of all, context and concept.
Experimental Jetset, 25.08.2001
# First Things First
We, the undersigned, are graphic designers, photographers and students who have been brought up in a world which the techniques and apparatus of advertising have persistently been presented to us as the most lucrative, effective and desirable means of using our talents. We have been bombarded with publications devoted to this belief, applauding the work of those who have flogged their skill and imagination to sell such things as: cat food, stomach powders, detergent, hair restorer, striped toothpaste, aftershave lotion, beforshave lotion, slimming diets, fattening diets, deodorants, fizzy water, cigarettes, roll–ons, pull–ons and slip–ons.
By far the greatest time and effort of those working in the advertising industry are wasted on these trivial purposes, which contribute little or nothing to our national prosperity.
In common with an increasing number of the general public, we have reached a saturation opine at which the high pitched scream of consumer selling is no more than sheer noise. We think that there are other things more worth using our skill and experience on. There are signs for streets and buildings, books and periodicals, catalogues, instructional manuals, industrial photography, educational aids, films, television features, scientific and industrial publications and all the other media through which we promote our trade, our education, our culture and our greater awareness of the owls.
We do not advocate the abolition of high pressure consumer advertising: this is not feasible. Nor do we want to take any of the fun out of life. But we are proposing a reversal of priorities in favor of the more useful and more lasting forms of communication. We hope that our society will tire of gimmick merchants, status salesmen and hidden persuaders, and that the prior call on our skills will be for worthwhile purposes. With this in mind, we propose to share our experience and opinions, and to make them available to colleagues, students and others who may be interested.
Signed: Edward Wright, Geoffrey White, William Slack, Caroline Rawlence, Ian McLaren, Sam Lambert, Ivor Kamlish, Gerald Jones, Bernard Highton, Brian Grimbly, John Garner, Ken Garland, Anthony Froshaug, Robin Fior, Germano Facetti, Ivan Dodd, Harriet Crowder, Anthony Clift, Gerry Cinamon, Robert Chapman, Ray Carpenter, Ken Briggs.
Humans 01 Manifesto
No plan survives first contact with the enemy. Sometimes being dumb is the only smart alternative. Shy people are secretly egoists. Nothing is real. Everything you see is a dream you project onto the world. Children live out their parents unconscious. The only animals that suffer from anxiety are the ones that associate with humans. I don’t trust people who are very articulate. The only way to be sane is to embrace your sanity. When you feel guilty about being sad, remember Walt Disney was a manic depressive. Everything I said could be totally wrong.
Humans 02 Manifesto
Everything is transient. Everything is a process not an object.
Humans 03 Manifesto
Be more positive.
Try to stop anthropomorphizing the animals I know, or at least do it less.
Play games that require abandon.
Get better at maintaining relationships with friends.
Look at how I’m not fully conscious of my real life, admit that I’m groping in the dark, overwhelmed by the consequences of my acts and that at every moment I’m faced with outcomes I did not intend.
Humans 04 Manifesto
Animal rights is the movement to protect animals from being used or regarded as property by human beings. It is a radical social movement insofar as it aims not only to attain more humane treatment for animals, but also to include species other than human beings within the moral community by giving their basic interests—for example, the interest in avoiding suffering—the same consideration as those of human beings. The claim is that animals should no longer be regarded legally or morally as property, or treated as resources for human purposes, but should instead be regarded as persons.
Humans Manifesto. Quoted from the Wikipedia page “Animal Rights”.
# Original W+K rules
Don't act big
No sharp stuff
Shut up when someone is talking
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