Design.It is always astonishing to consider how bad a reputation design clearly has, even with those who should know better. This is what Gerhard Matzig wrote in the Süddeutsche Zeitung recently (31th January 2014, page 12): “The competition won by Frank Gehry for Berlin’s Alexanderplatz is indicative of the city’s childlike pleasure for labelling: design triumphs over urban space.” The first question is then why must design be troubled for the alleged failure of the architectural world? And secondly, who believes that serious design challenges can be addressed using the “good discipline/bad discipline” approach? Design is not a gimmick and certainly not the bogeyman of nations. And it is about time that designers are properly recognised for their achievements, as has been the case with architects, artists and engineers for a long time, and not disappear behind nebulous words as in the FAZ report about the new Nomos Glashütte Metro watch (Design: Mark Braun, ↗ p. 17): “It is a watch entirely commensurate with Nomos’ language of design which everyone who has ever consciously been aware of a model produced by this company would recognise.”
Context.It is therefore necessary to continue our lobbying for the discipline as a whole. In doing so, we will and shall neither praise design to the skies as a reflex reaction nor have “design meetings packaged as recommendations to buy” – a broadly based bad habit which Renate Menzi points out (↗ p. 40). It is a matter of developing independence – whether this is in the younger generation and supporting them (↗ p. 90), or the design process (↗ p. 80) or in daily practice (↗ p. 76) – a forum for which we will continue to offer through form.
Situation.In the preparation period for this issue focussing on Switzerland (↗ p. 34), a ballot also took place in which the Swiss population voted with a narrow majority to limit immigration to their country. Indeed, we have have not addressed this issue explicitly, but a clear statement can be implicitly extrapolated when dealing with Swiss design: identity does not emerge from compartmentalisation and exclusion (just as it doesn’t through oppressive expansion), but it comes as a result of a differentiated view and the ability to adapt. In this respect, designers are working increasingly more politically, and design is always a public affair. For this issue, we have asked the editorial staff of Slanted to curate our Carte Blanche (↗ p. 102). Our “regular” Carte Blanche has been entrusted to the Swiss product designers Postfossil and will be published at the end of April in the next issue of Slanted magazine (#23), which also has Switzerland as its theme.
Two errors slipped into our last issue (form Nº 252). In our showcase, we described the RCA as the Royal Academy of Art. It is, of course, the venerable Royal College of Art. Part of the German text was missing from the first paragraph in the Discourse. The full version can be found here. We ask for your understanding and aim to do better.
Stephan Ott, Editor-in-Chief