Design.“Design is not a text.” With this statement, recently made at the re/set Conference at the Offenbach University of Art and Design, Gui Bonsiepe expressed his unease about design theory that fails to reference practical projects. Doctoral works in design, Bonsiepe maintains, should therefore not just deal with a concept at the textual level, as is common in the cultural sciences, but should always be related to its object in a practical way. The participants at the Mainzer Designgespräche [Mainz design conversations] a few days later were able to make a very precise image of how to formulate an explicit practical approach that goes beyond theoretical discourses. Desiree Heiss and Ines Kaag, founders and protagonists of the (fashion) label Bless were among those in Mainz presenting their work, characterized by experiment, expansiveness and surprise. That their work is not primarily driven by business or marketing considerations and they still make a living is not a contradiction.
Context.The basis of a successful design is, in fact, first of all the practical aspect. Projects created in this way are fundamentally different from industrially manufactured products, whose primary purpose is commercial success. Efficiency, welfare, justice, sustainability, protection – the designers’ motivation for creating the work is the argument entrepreneurs use to sell it. This distinction can be maintained only if there is a mutual awareness of the need to realize better objects with which both designer and consumer can live well. To communicate this approach to design, we at form present projects, investigate current issues, such as the relationship between design and finance, or take up historical subjects that make it very clear that many wheels do not need to be reinvented if we just cultivate our memory.
Situation.Our focus in this issue is style writing and graffiti. We are interested in particular in the autodidactic, emotional, formal, organizational and technical influences on other design disciplines. On the one hand, the (style) elements of graffiti culture, still criminalized in many contexts, have long since been adapted by epigones of advertising, media, fashion and product culture and shape our everyday lives, either consciously or unconsciously. On the other hand, many former sprayers – known or unknown – work very successfully today as architects, graphic artists, performers, fashion and product designers, tattoo artists or typographers. So it was high time to take up the matter. Together with the Style Council initiative, we will continue to devote ourselves to the subject through symposia, exhibitions and publications. In this issue, we present the winners of this year’s Output competition. New this year: In addition to the grand prize, an audience prize will also be awarded. Before the end of August, you can go to our website (form.de/en/output-audience-award) to select your favourite out of the ten distinctions. We look forward to your visit and your vote.
Stephan Ott, Editor-in-Chief
form Design Magazine
Die Kunst mit dem Zeichen
Museum für Konkrete Kunst, Ingolstadt
form Edition #2