I've got a post that's been rattling around my brain for several months now (maybe even longer), and I think I might eventually put it up here next week. It has to do with the type of designer that a designer chooses to become: not the choice between being a product designer or a graphic designer, say; but the choice of how we apply our skills to the job that we do. That sounds a bit complicated, doesn't it? Which is the reason why it's taking so long to clarify my thoughts.
But my two images that I'll use to illustrate this post have always been crystal clear in my mind - and one of them is of a product designed by Philippe Starck. And because the post will appear to criticise the design of this product, I thought I really ought to attempt a clearer understanding of Starck's design process. Which led me (again - and again for good reason) to the excellent TED Talks.
It's pretty entertaining and worth 18 minutes of your time. But I doubt whether you'll come out the other end with a clear understanding of the Starck design process, though you might understand the title of this post.
News reaches us that The Lighthouse in Glasgow, Scotland has gone into administration. I must admit that it's an awfully long time since I was last in Glasgow - and The Lighthouse wasn't on my list of places seen when I was there. But that's neither here nor there, really. Because it's a sad day when this country loses (or is in the process of losing) such a cultural asset. No matter what the reasons (and I'm sure there are many).
"I see this signpost every day, just after dropping Dr B off at school. It always makes me think of a really cheap 'Duel'
remake, in which a man is being relentlessly pursued by a sinister (if
slightly ineffectual) bicycle instead of a truck. Just imagine the
These are the things that go through my head first thing in the morning."
This may turn out to be a bit of a ramble - so my apologies if I
drift away from the point of this post now and again. And the point is
mainly to do with blogging: and if you do blog you'll know that you
build up relationships with people who become good friends, even though
you've never met - nor are likely to meet - in person. But sometimes
you do. And what strikes me, in particular, is that if I meet a group
of fellow bloggers, the chances are that I'll be the oldest person in
the room. Which makes me wonder why my generation (the baby boomers)
don't do it. Have they all retired on a comfortable pension, I wonder?
(Well, I guess the dentists and bankers have.) Or is it like the TV
remote: we can just about switch from ITV1 to BBC2, but we simply can't
get our heads around the red button?
Anyway, my fascination with
blogging has to do with connections. And I'm going to illustrate it
with a couple of graphs from a neat little program that takes your URL
address and turns it into something visual. I'm sure I've posted about
this before, way back when I started blogging, but short of reading
every post I've ever written (yes, that would bore me as well), I'm
afraid I can't find it. But here's how my website looked three years
ago in September 2006: my website, because this was before I started
isn't it? And the things to note are the blue dots, since these
represent links - which I guess are the things that connect to the
outside world. When I looked at this last night I thought it looked
fairly self-contained: this morning I'm not so sure, but it does seem
to portray a sense of order - or at least an attempt to impose order
upon a chaotic world. It's the way that all of the dots appear to be
trying to form clusters, as though they're attempting to organise the
way that they link (or connect) to the outside world. And thus, in a
way, to have control over what those connections are, or where they
Now fast forward by three years, and here's how davidthedesigner looked yesterday:
it looks to me as though that inclination to cluster has diminished,
with the links - the blue dots - moving to the outer margins, but in a
much more random fashion. (If you want to create a graph from your own
site or blog, you can do so at this link.)
I was reminded of this idea of connections, and putting one's trust in the randomness of those connections on my recent all-expenses-paid day trip to Brussells.
Because I was invited, seemingly at random, to meet a group of people
I'd never met before and have a day out at the expense of Eurostar.
And the only connection between us was that we all blog about art or
design. What's interesting, of course, is that Eurostar isn't simply
doing this out of the kindness of its heart. No, it wants to connect
with you - and to persuade you that a day trip to the capitals of
either France or Belgium would be a jolly good thing. And, of course,
it would be a good thing: otherwise I wouldn't be mentioning it here.
But here's the rub: ten years ago it would have been journalists being
offered free trips with the aim of getting a feature into a Sunday
supplement. But we all know what's happening to the newspaper industry,
don't we? And so now we've reached a point where in order to make a
connection with you, Eurostar no longer expects that to be via the
Sunday Times or the Observer, but via this humble little blog, and
others like it. So for any readers of my generation who might have got
this far down this post: this represents the world that's changing
before our very eyes. And yes, I know, it's harder for us, because we
have to adapt: anyone under the age of thirty doesn't, because this is
Back to random connections, though. For one of my fellow travellers to Brussels was Mehrdad
- a thoroughly nice chap with a wicked sense of humour. Now Merdhad was
born and grew up in Iran before moving here in the 1980s to study and
to eventually settle down in North London (after a spell in Germany).
At face value, you'd think that Mehrdad and I would have very little in
common. But it turns out that twenty years ago we lived just twenty or so doors apart (and where I still live, as it happens). Now, that really does have to be a random connection.
Via Nick Hand's blog. Nick is a fellow graphic designer who (I think) used to work for Thirteen in Bristol, but now works for Howies. I'm not sure whether he's employed by them, or works freelance and they're a major client - not that it matters terribly much (to us, that is: I'm sure that it does matter to Nick). But what does matter to us is that Nick is just about halfway through a clockwise cycle around the coast of Great Britain. You can read all about it on his web site slowcoast. He's doing it to raise money for the Parkinson's Disease Society, inspired by his big brother Bob. You can read about that and sponsor him with a little bit of cash, which would be a good thing to do.
Last week I had an email out of the blue from Sarah at we are social: 'would I like to join a small group of bloggers for a little break in Brussels, courtesy of Eurostar?' So I did.
I'm going to tell you that it was fun, but I'm not going to bore you with all of the details (that would be rather like describing a fabulous party to which you weren't invited, now wouldn't it?). But if you've got yourself a day to spare and £59 in your pocket, then you could far worse than doing exactly the same. But you'll have to hurry if, like us, you want to take your lunch down on the beach at Bruxelles les Bains - because it closes for the year on 23 August. But there's a lot else to see besides (beside the seaside).