October 2007 Archives

October 31, 2007

Bragging about The Times

My brass robot picture in The Times — Arts Online section. Cristian -Kit- Paul, Bucharest, 2007.

A funny picture of mine is in The Times today—Arts Online section—featured in Olav Bjortomt's Blog of the Week review of Faces in Places.

Thank you Jody/PickupStix from Faces in Places, thank you Jo Carlill from The Times.

October 30, 2007

Packaging Oscars

Zuzú awarded Bronze Pentaward

Zuzu Brandient Pentawards

Pentaward-Winner-Logo

Everybody's dear—Zuzú— takes home a prize again: the Bronze Pentaward in the Beverages (RTD) category at 2007 Pentawards.

Pentawards is the first and only worldwide competition exclusively devoted to packaging design in all its forms. It is open to everybody in all countries who are associated with the creation and marketing of packaging.

Presided over by Gérard Caron—founder of Carré Noir in 1973, co-founder and former president of PDA (Pan European Brand Design Association), regarded as the founder of marketing design in France and Europe—the international jury for the Pentawards 2007 enlisted: Michael Aidan – Danone Waters, Philippe Becker – PBD, Luis G. Bartolomei – B+G, Oleg Beriev – Mildberry Brand Building Solutions, Sam Ciulla – Ciulla/MLR, Jonathan Ford – Pearlfisher, Tamara Fynan – J.M. Smucker, Cathy Huang – CBI, William Lunderman – Colgate Palmolive, Fumi Sasada – Bravis, Barrie Tucker – Tucker Design, Lars Wallentin.

October 14, 2007

Communist design

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Googlers

I see incoming hits coming from Google searches for "communist design" keywords. They drive me nuts and determined me to write this post.

What these searches find is A communist design law in the making page about SDPR's "design law", which is only fair, if not also a bit amusing.

But that's not about communist design per se, but about a professional conduct that reminds of communism: people with mindsets imported right from "the old times" and an appetite for control by monopoly and lack of choice that can only make sense in a centralized economic model.

Parenthesis

Communist economy was utterly inept at building a nice spoon.

IKEA opened their first Bucharest store a few months ago. One of the first items my friends bought from IKEA was—among other items—a tea spoon. A very simple yet beautifully designed little metal spoon, featuring a clear line and a matte sandblasted texture, almost soft to touch.

I look at it for a long time, trying to understand. How hard is to design a spoon, and—I remembered—why during communism exactly those small day-to-day domestic life objects were the most horrendous?

Because everyday life objects don't have any political propaganda potential. They don't serve the regime.

Communist economy could manufacture spaceships and send people on orbit, but was utterly inept—and will always be, in any if its iterations—at building a nice spoon.

Contradiction

Communist design is a contradiction in terms: there is no such thing as communist design.

In fact, communist design is a contradiction in terms: there is no such thing as communist design. The rudimentary exceptions you'll find can only confirm this statement, because communism and design are incompatible and mutually exclusive. Here's why.

  • Communism despises people1 while design is an effort to help and dignify people2;
  • Communism is a centralized economy which means that market competition is heavily discouraged until complete obliteration, while design is an instrument for outperforming competing players in a market economy;
  • In a centralized economy it's not the market that decides what's good—someone else decides what's good for you and what you should like: centralized taste. Design stands for differentiation and plurality, design teaches and encourages a democracy of taste;
  • Communism is about eradicating the freedom of choice by lack of options and by coercion, design is about encouraging choice by seduction;
  • Graphic design in communism is closely linked with propaganda. So closely that anything that's not propaganda it is regarded as hostile to the regime and subject to censure.2
  • Without plurality there is no need for identity, consequently identity design is either pointless or diverted to propaganda, also.

Now really, please—if you find this—quit searching for "communist design"—it's not only a deceptive oxymoron, it's plain bullshit. There could exist an appropriate term, however: communist un-design.


1 Romania's president officially denounced the Communist regime as "illegitimate and criminal" in 2006. Before that, in July 1993, the Czech Republic passed an act condemning its Soviet-era government, and Bulgaria's Parliament passed a resolution condemning the former regime there in 2001. In 2006 also, Ukraine's Parliament passed a bill labeling the Stalin-orchestrated famine of the 1930s that killed an estimated 10 million people an act of genocide. [See article in International Herald Tribune.]

2 Informations architecture helps people understand messages better, ergonomics helps people use products with less effort, usability helps people accomplish their goals, and so forth.

3 Graphic artists and book illustrators explained me the numerous revisions they were forced upon by the censors for mere poetry books illustrations. In one instance a Communist Party censor asked that all earrings and bracelets from a series of book illustrations to be airbrushed out because they were "decadent" and "bourgeois".

October 10, 2007

Everybody hurts

Robot skull, Cristian -Kit- Paul, Bucharest, 2007

A voicelessly despaired brass robot head, all beaten up, scratched and dented—look closely and you'll notice those heartbreaking tears.

A take on that Faces in Places mildly delusional idea.

October 5, 2007

Come on, Vogue

Yes, I can

Listen, if The Sartorialist guy can do it, then I can, too: real-life style photography. Staggering findings of urban sophistication. Elegance. Panache. Hell, why not even style commentary—if I want to.

Design avant-garde or wardrobe malfunction? Cristian -Kit- Paul, Bucharest, 2005

Style and all things chic

Now really. Look at this: les annees folles of transition economy, wild parties and champagne in the morning—a few sips too many—and she hits the street dressed with a sofa cover, prettified with an assemblage of lovely fluffy tassels dangling limp like a strangled family of little animals.

Quite a warning. There are things going on underneath, mysterious things. Ambiguous and intriguing things. Artifacts obliviously hanging out, probably by design—post-modernly quoting the misfortunes of wardrobe malfunction. Design should be, though, because those flowery baits will shrewdly entice your hungry eye—like a stupid little puppy—toward the vicious curves concealed underneath like boas in the jungle, unmerciful and relentless.

And then, the finishing BDSM touch: cheeky not-so-tiny golden hand-cuffs, sprinkled with blinding Swarovski crystals, teasingly barring the way to the vast carnal temptations sequestered underneath. Do sailors blush?