Design Truisms to Ponder About


Image by Anthony Dickens on Twitpic. Click for a larger view.
Anthony Dickens recently shared, on a Linkedin discussion, a list of Design Truisms written by Tim Parsons. Tim is an Associate Professor in Designed Objects in the AIADO Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was written in 2004 for a Design Mart exhibition at the London Museum. I’ve reproduced it in text form below for our easy discussion and dissection.

A product may be a word in an essay.
Adding another object is not always the answer.
Advertising is design’s spin doctor.
Branding camouflages substance.
Change is good for the soul.
Creativity cannot be taught.
Design education is a life skill.
Every design has a political undertone.
Form without content is waste.
Freedom is slavery, especially within design.
In the mind, a design is never finished.
Independence encourages audacity.
It is a luxury to have time to create.
Marketing is design’s pimp.
Movements decay into styles.
Patenting allows ideas to be imprisoned.
Perfection creates waste.
Post-Modernism was a necessary evil.
Preoccupation with objects is unhealthy.
Pride in ideas obstructs progress.
Providing more choice is a smoke screen.
Real value doesn’t evaporate after purchase.
Resistance to trend is commendable.
Signature styles reveal vacant minds.
Solving artificial problems is cowardly.
There is humanity in mis-use.
Utopia is the only honest starting point.
With volume comes responsibility.

A really well thought out and comprehensive list that has a makings of a manifesto. Unfortunately I do think some of the Truisms take a rather extreme view such as “Marketing is design’s pimp.” I also disagree with “Creativity cannot be taught.”
Regardless, I enjoy such lists as they reflect a growing thought leadership in our design procession. As you can see, this list compliments very nicely with the form focused Dieter’s Rams 10 Principles of Good Design and my business angled “What are your principles of good design?
Tim’s Design Truisms takes on the angle of what it takes to be a good designer in today’s context. Also notice that the list above focuses very little on form or aesthetic, but covers a lot about the design ecosystem instead.
What do you think of this list of Design Truisms? I look forward to reading your feedback and thoughts.

2 Comments
  • GINA

    March 4, 2011 at 12:16 am Reply

    I guess ill choose my favorite “With volume comes responsibility.” ill change that one to ” with DESIGN comes responsibility” : to know to understand to tolerate to create to increase to follow and break rules.. etc etc etc. Have a nice day you all.

  • Brian

    March 7, 2011 at 10:32 am Reply

    @Gina: Thanks for your comment. Indeed your suggestion works too! Take care.

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