My first post in a week. No access to Typepad and Facebook in China. I’ve spent a lot of time meeting with designers in Shanghai (both expat and local), potential clients and employees.. Picture above one of the many creative districts and the one below is one of potential office spaces for Idea Couture Shanghai. Design is something that is in very high demand, any form of design from ID to architecture to graphic. Graphic design is mostly what people is referring to when we mention the word “design”. Graphic design has become an art and a commodity, just looking at those printed junks everywhere and most are not even worth the paper that they are printed on.
How is graphic design changing? Is graphic design going way? In the future, everything we touch is interactive and signages are smart and all media will be rich. Will there be a place for print? I guess so, I love printed material, especially coffee table books. They accessorize my home just as a Hermes scarf accessorizes your sweater, or a well-designed book that accessorizes your brand.
What progress has graphic design made the last 20 years? I’ve heard graphic designers screaming, “Design can change the world”. I wonder what a poster or logo can do in driving change. I love graphic design, a designer (at heart) I always treat it as an art, an identify system for our societies and cultures. Graphic art is a great representation of cultures, seeing how emerging markets embarking on a design-maturity journey, I can see graphic design embarks on different paths than we went through. In the next 20 years we will see new emerging graphic languages. These languages are collective, social, global fast moving, reflecting not only local challenges but also global hopes.
My graphic journey is very much like everyone else. I grew up inspired by Le Corbusier and Bauhaus. Helvetica is the font I used and until we were asked to use ITC Garamond when Apple implemented the new brand ID then. Those work from the Apple Brand ID design team were classic. I actually collect many of them. The Mac graphics cutely abstract, child-like drawings of the computer's components in pure bright colors-red, green, yellow, blue and gray-with a handsome logotype in ITC Garamond Regular, optically condensed to about 80% and then redrawn to give it a livelier look than its classical "parent." This combination of approachable, deliberately Picasso-like “fun” art with an obviously serious logo presents the user not only with a friendly product, but a friend whom you are supposed to trust.
I still have many of the design pieces as my collection. When Clement Mok talked about the design guidelines at Apple (or lack of it): “Steve Jobs had in mind something very simple, something very different from existing standards, and something with a personality-something that would transcend the technological appeal of the computer.” After 10 rounds of comps and living with the engineers in the Macintosh division day-in and day-out for months, we were nowhere. The solution didn’t come until we realized that those engineers are not technicians, but poets and artisans. It came to us.”
People there were spending 90 hours a week working on the first Mac out of passion and the belief that they can change the world. The engineers were using the technology medium to create art: what they designed is really a new art form-that of the 1980s. The takeaway is anything is its best form is an art – business, design or technology.