A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of addressing the AIGA national convention from it’s main stage. But only for 60 seconds. I and 19 other young designers had to present of our idea of “what’s next” for the graphic design profession. Each of us were nominated by an established practicing designer. I was nominated by AIGA Gold Medalist Lorraine Wild, a speaker in the Walker’s Dis-Contents: Insights 2007 Lecture Series. I’ve had the good fortune of working for and being a student of Lorraine’s in the MFA program at California Institute of the Arts
My presentation entitled Towards the notion of a Designer-less Design Office or a (micro)theory of graphic design evolution is a parody of the recent trend for graphic designers to create more self-initiated briefs. In 60 seconds with this chart and several supporting examples I argue that
Designers want creative freedom. The Designer-less want the ultimate autonomy: to design themselves out of practice. If designers can thrive without clients, then the next natural step would be a design office without designers.”
The notion of graphic designers striving for autonomy was actually forecasted four years ago by the Walker’s very own Design Director and my former boss, Andrew Blauvelt, in the famous Rant issue of Emigre magazine. In his essay, Towards Critical Autonomy or Can Graphic Design Save Itself? Andrew urges that graphic designers should create work that is aware of and critiques it’s social, cultural, economic, technological contexts.
I didn’t create my parody to make light of Andrew’s essay. I extended the kernel of his idea to a ridiculous, but possible conclusion to coax the graphic design profession to be open minded and adaptable in a constantly expanding, shifting discipline that is perhaps out growing the term “graphic” design.
The Walker Design Department’s endeavors into curation, event programming, and now critical writing (in addition to their roles in exhibition, catalogue, publication, and advertising design) are but one possible model of nuanced and multi-faceted practice that deserves a different, more evolved nomenclature than a perhaps obsolete term coined in 1922.