It's All-Feeling All the Time at Masters of Design Gala 2008

I attended the Annual Masters of Design (MOD) Gala that was held yesterday night at (appropriately) the recently opened Museum of Art and Design where Marcel Wanders, world-renowned Dutch designer, John Maeda, president of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and Valerie Casey, a star design consulting mastermind, were some of the guests of honor.

When I asked Marcel Wanders about his pearl necklace, the first thing he said was “It’s a fake!”....Ok Marcel, so you are designing some of the coolest spaces (Mondrian Hotels) and things (knotted chair) in the world and you’re telling me your signature pearl necklace (see cover of Fastcompany magazine) is FAKE??!! He simply wears it b/c it pleases him, and makes him feel a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ way.

If big-time designers are preaching ‘fakes are good’ then why not just continually create fakes or copies of others designs i.e. if it pleases people and is less expensive to acquire then why not? Don’t’ fret about the fakes because we’ll always have good designers who strive to do what even they don’t think they can, who innovate and create, to help keep the momentum of the world going forward. But could this movement of “fuck capitalism, it’s about feeling!” indicate that the ethic of design is taking a turn away from the object and ownership, towards a more organic, guttural relationship between viewer and thing?

It was all organic, reach-out-and-touch-somebody at MOD this year. John Maeda preaches participation from the masses and was inspired to ask for feedback from his students at RISD when creating his “vision” for the famous design school. Valerie Casey is spreading the love through the ‘designers accord’, an environmentally driven agreement to facilitate creative community environmental practices and bring designers together. Closer to home, Mark Borden, a colleague who wrote the ‘Typographreaks’ piece on the edgy House Industries typeface design company, was given the vellum markup for one of House Industries’ latest fonts, but said it wasn’t the object that meant so much to him, it was the feeling and experience that it represented which moved him the most.

It’s a cold, unfeeling, money-driven world we live in but if you’ve been hit in the wallet by the fall-o-wallstreet and need a big metaphorical hug, open a Target catalogue, and look at that hot sofa you may have wanted and immerse yourself in the human connection between you and the sofa designer; how does that make you feel?

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  • Rachel King

    In this economic climate, who can afford the real thing? Target and other low-cost stores are really catching on to hot designs, and designers are catching on that they can make a ton of money by opening up their brands to a wider market.