My second set of material is, admittedly, schizophrenic. The themes of the readings remain focused on individual expression vs. “problem solving” and the degree to which designers should or should not insert themselves and their personal concerns into a designed product. It is hard to find two hours of video that support this theme directly, so, as you will see, my in-class presentation will relate more closely to Laura’s theme of “place.”

Here is your last set of assigned readings for the course:


1. Beatrice Warde. “The Crystal Goblet”. Address to the Society of Typographic Designers, 1932.

A classic, conservative view of the role of the typographer. Not much support for this view in today’s design world. It does, however, make clear how typography has evolved in the last 80 years.

LINK: Warde: The Crystal Goblet.

2. Jeffery Keedy, “The Rules of Typography According to Crackpots Experts”. Eye Magazine, 1993.

An impassioned defense of the new vs. the traditional. Ironically, in Keedy’s view, the old guarde is actually the previous generation’s avante garde, i.e. the Modernists.

LINK: Keedy: The Rules.

3. Peter Mertens, Interview with Jeffery Keedy, Emigré, 1990.

Some radical, and very “90s” ideas about typography and type design, again, from Jeff Keedy and Emigré magazine.

LINK: Mertens: Keedy Interview

4. Piet Schreuders, Excerpt from Lay In, Lay Out, republished by Emigré magazine in 1991.

Mostly for fun. An iconoclastic assessment of the design profession. Read both pages.

LINK: Schreuders: Design is a Crime

5. Paul Rand, “From Cassandre to Chaos” From the book, Design, Form and Chaos, Yale University Press, 1993.

A classic rant from a design giant in the twilight of his career. He just couldn’t stand what the young’uns were doing to the profession!

LINK (online article): Rand: Cassandre to Chaos

FYI: An optional reading

In my section last week , a thread of our discussion led me to talking about some ideas expressed in the “First Things First” manifesto, a statement of revolt by a group of London designers in 1964 and later revived by an international group of designers in 2000. Here’s a link to both manifestos and a discussion of them by Rick Poyner of Eye magazine. This is not required to read, but you should at least look at the two manifestos (they’re short!).

LINK: First Things First


In my component of the seminar I want to get back to some fundamental questions—some very fundamental questions:

  • Who do we design for, ourselves, our clients, society at large? What is the
    correct balance? Is there such a thing?
  • How do we measure our success as designers?
  • Is design a way of life?
  • And, in the end, what is design?


1. Kenya Hara. “Art and Design,” from Designing Design. Lars Muller Publishers, 2007.
A brief, and to my mind, convincing definition of the difference between art and design.
(Do not read the part after “RE-DESIGN Exhibition.”)

LINK: Hara: Art and Design.

2. Kenya Hara, “What is Design,” from Designing Design. Lars Muller Publishers, 2007.
A wonderful treatment of the question and a fascinating walk through design history as viewed by someone outside of the mainstream western culture.

LINK: Hara: What Is Design?.

3. Jorge Frascara, “Graphic Design: Fine Art or Social Science?” from The Idea of Design, A Design Issues Reader. The MIT Press, 1996.
A view of the profession from someone who has firm convictions about how we should assess the success of the products of graphic design. Can we actually measure our success?

LINK: Frascara: Fine Art or Social Science?

4. Ettore Sottsass, “When I Was a Child,” from the exhibition catalogue,Man transFORMS: Aspects of Design. Cooper-Hewitt Museum, 1976.
A reminder that design is, ultimately, a distinctly human activity. You might be surprised that the author (top), a founder of the Memphis movement, made his name doing work like this:

LINK: Sottsass: When I Was a Child

5. Charles Eames, “Q & A,” a transcription of the brief Eames interview video (which I may or may not show!).

LINK: Eames Q&A

The readings this week are two very different pieces.

(the image below is of tobacco sorting in the T.B. Williams Tobacco Co., Richmond)

1) A provocative chapter from belonging: a culture of place by bell hooks. You need to know something about hooks to give this piece context. About the land and the significance of the culture (agriculture) of the land. It relates to Richmond history in many ways.  hookstobacco

2) Intro from Elsewhere, U.S.A by Dalton Conley. The subtitle is “How We Got from the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Honw Office, BlackBerry Moms, and Economic Anxiety”. It was hard to choose one chapter. The chapter about Google  (Convestment…) is entertaining. elsewhere, usa

additional (not required) food for thought: If you haven’t read any poetry by the poet Wendell Berry, this is a good place to start. Here is an interview:

or this:

In her recent book, Sex and Real Estate: Why We Love Houses, Marjorie Garber takes note of the strange turn of events that has made the contemporary house into a space of vicarious experience rather than a place for actual living. “We build exercise rooms instead of exercising, furnish libraries instead of reading, install professional kitchens instead of cooking.” She observes that space has become a substitute for time, “and the house becomes the unlived life…the place where we stage the life we wish we had time to live.”

more on this: imagined families