The Politics of Design 

I recently stumbled upon a wealth of writing from the (arguably) preeminent graphic designer of our time, Paul Rand over on his website (though he now be deceased, since 1996). "The Politics of Design" was originally published in 1985 in the publication "A Designer’s Art." It’s amazing how relevant the writing still is, perhaps no longer in the context of advertising, as Mr. Rand was writing then, but certainly in the context of the Silicon Valley bubble where the word "design" is bandied about like rumors of buy-outs and IPOs.

I selected a few choice sections, but really you should take yourself away to read the whole thing.

On what actual design is:

"Design is a way of life, a point of view. It involves the whole complex of visual communication: talent, creative ability, manual skill, and technical knowledge. Aesthetics and economics, technology and psychology are intrinsically relate to the process."

On asking for multiple "drafts" or "concepts":

"One of the more common problems which tends to create doubt and confusion is caused by the inexperienced and anxious executive who innocently expects, or even demands, to see not one but many solutions to a problem… This practice is as bewildering as it is wasteful. It discourages spontaneity, encourages indifference, and more often than not produces results which are neither distinguished, interesting, nor effective. In short, good ideas rarely come in bunches."

On the skilled designer:

"His is an independent spirit guided more by an ‘inner artistic standard of excellence’(1) than by some external influence. At the same time as he realizes that good design must withstand the rigors of the marketplace, he believes that without good design the marketplace is a showcase of visual vulgarity."

I’ll venture to modify his last sentence slightly: "After all, our epoch can boast of only one [Paul Rand]." (And by no means intending any disrespect to A.M. Cassandre!)

So much great stuff on the site, in general, and it’s beautifully (responsively) designed.

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