2006-05-31

the trouble with Washington via Anna Wintour :

She’s talking about England. But she might as well be saying DC:

‘Washington is frightened of fashion. I think the British government has the same ... People in political office tend to get extremely nervous about fashion because they feel it's frivolous. And they don't want to look too elitist or too silly or whatever it may be. And, frankly, it makes me extremely angry, because it's such a huge industry for Britain and for every country, and I feel that politicians should embrace it, rather than step away from it. And I wish the British government would get more involved in fashion and turn up at some of the shows or have people to Downing Street. I know that Blair did that at the beginning and, I think, got criticised for having some people there who weren't considered serious, and I feel that is so insulting to the industry, because it does so much for Britain. There are all these huge talents coming out of the country; they ought to be celebrating it.’


Now imagine, if unlike London, the city’s raison d’etre was ONLY politics. And that, my friends, is DC. And pretty much why it sucks to be interested in or work in the arts and design and live in Washington.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

washington dc is a glorified office park, with glorified desk jockeys who want or need to fit in to be considered "part of the team", or were the adult versions of bookish student council types who really do not have the constitution to call attention to themselves in any way shape or form. there are some people in dc who recognize great design or art, but they are few to begin with. open discussions about art or design or fashion or music are seen as pretentious, or pedantic, especially in a city populated by high powered govt employees, high powered lawyers or noble social activists. being dressed well in public identifies you as either a retail employee, a european embassy arriviste, or a teenage african american girl - in all cases an outsider - there are no quick fixes for this problem, design for many of these people is considered a service and not an intellectual product, that ideas are fleeting and worthless, that the uniform above all else requires your respect.

*sorry about the lack of replies to your blog. even i found you through the design observer. your comment may be the first of its kind for a profession that has held its reverent ground for a very long time - i do think though that involving the client in the creative process achieves 1. confusion or 2. demystifying the creative process to the point that the design "product" becomes a service and a commodity that can be sold to the lowest bidder (see also architects and interior designers vs. hgtv and home builders).

DC1974 said...

1. I totally agree with your point on DC. the problem is that people think that ideas are beneath them. that design is throw away and not worthy of their status. i blame the schools, partially. i think the local colleges and universities need to do a better job with design and innovation thinking and leadership.

2. I think the innovation culture requires thinking different about ideas. that the "product" isn't the point. it's process. that's what the better industrial design companies have figured out. Stone Yamashita or IDEO -- they aren't offering a product for their customers.. but they're offering a design-centered way to achieve a goal: a new product, a service, an experience. so "fast prototyping" or "doing spec work" is part of selling the process. and the process needs to involve the client. the better ad agencies realize this too. that the client wants to come into your office out of their world and think with you. and you offer the tools of your process to help them achieve their design goals. and if you don't get the job: well then you've only worked to make your process better. and that's what the point of this exercise was anyway. the design is incidental.

Anonymous said...

im all for involving the client in the process, but how far does the designer have to involve the client? :

"the client wants to come into your office...and you offer the tools of your process to help them achieve their design goals."

this is great if you have already formed a relationship with this client, and youve done business with them for years, and theyve come to trust you design instinct.

this doesnt work if the client is shopping for an agency- "fast prototyping" "specs" youre giving ideas away for no pay for them to use at will! they may be shopping for a lowest-bidder option (and what business doesnt shop for a lowest bidder? its just good business) and have your ideas in hand. the lowest bidder wins with your idea.

so, to tie in the topic of "people think that ideas are beneath them", the scenario ive just presented you with is a key to this kind of thinking.

"and if you don't get the job": then the experience of design was worth it to the client, but it didnt bring in the job/client/$$$.

ideas, knowledge, design solutions are the product. otherwise, an administrative assistant with a working knowledge of pagemaker is going to replace you. i have seen it happen time and again. i know, id been taught "dont be precious about your ideas, you will always have another one"- but when your business is based on the generation of money from ideas (with design being your product), you really shouldnt give too many of them away. show samples instead.

Anonymous said...

how does one email you? saw you post with a trackback on another website and would like to be in touch.

QOS said...

wait - you mean gigantic plastic ids on lanyards aren't the height of fashion?
pshaw!

Anonymous said...

yeah sure:

artificialeyedc at yahoo.com
artificialeyedc is also my yahoo IM

talk to you soon

*chris

DC1974 said...

one doesn't email me. i'm an enigma that has no known identity.

as for doing the work in front of the audience. i still don't think this is a bad thing.

because you still have that magic combination of that made the process work in the first place. let's say that someone decides not to use your public work (and obviously, you can't do this with everyone. there are certain clients for whom this is a good idea. why do you think agencies do pro bono work as a form of self promotion?)

all of this becomes part of your portfolio. a case study that can still be discussed with future clients. something even to promote on your website.

and every time you brainstorm, etc. you still end up learning and developing and refining. and that is how you benefit and grow.

i think that graphic design firms (especially american ones.) have a mentality that is very quaint and old fashioned, sometimes. about what it is we do. and an anti-intellectual protectionism that shuns exploration for the purpose of exploration.

perhaps i'm a little bit too much of a socialist.

Anonymous said...

"one doesn't email me. i'm an enigma that has no known identity."

-- i understand this is supposed to be a joke, but even in jest, the sentiment is very DC. ie "the culture of hiding" or "the culture of you dont know me". that culture, its over. otherwise we are merely words on a computer screen- how dehumanizing, dont you think?

"as for doing the work in front of the audience."

are you an enigmatic designer, or are you a circus ringmaster? which is it? ok nuff criticisms.

design as an experience. design demystified. designers as pop stars. design as dog and pony show. listen, im all for trying something new and exciting, i love interesting ideas that push an envelope. the only proof for the $ucce$$ of an idea or theory is whether or not it brings in more bu$ine$$, plain and simple. if you believe that you can sucessfully run a graphic design firm with the idea of "fast prototyping" as a marketing tool for garnering new clients, then i say "WORK IT"! ::: please, can i see your business plan beforehand tho?

"perhaps i'm a little bit too much of a socialist."

perhaps in a bit too much of a capitalist. the end oftentimes justifies the means.


-chris