Do the outspoken really design for design’s sake?

Your recent Comment (DW 29 November) began, ‘The question of design ethics seems to have raised its head again, prompted by the events of 11 September and the war in Afghanistan.’ Wrong.

The question of design and ethics is around at all times, 11 September and the war in Afghanistan or not. You referred to Alex Cameron’s letter (DW 15 November) on this subject, where he argues ‘ that graphics work should be for clients and not represent the designer’s own views.’ This view is familiar, but mistaken.

The point, surely, is that as thinking, thoughtful human beings are not one-dimensional. We can be citizens, consumers and designers. An increasing number of us seek out ways of working that allow us to wear several of these hats simultaneously. Curiously, we find this more comfortable than a neat compartmentalisation of the different aspects of ourselves that Cameron proposes.

Rick Poyner makes a similar point in Obey the Giant: Life in the Image World: ‘…designers are consumers too. If, as a consumer, you disagree with something, why shouldn’t you apply this awareness to your choices and practice as a designer?’

Cameron, and, come to that, Spy principal Nico Macdonald, Seymour Powell senior forecaster and strategist Kevin McCullagh and De Montfort University professor of innovation James Woudhuysen all pursue this oddball line that conflates humanism, science and progress under a strange de-politicised vestigial quasi-Marxism unrecognisable as anything even vaguely progressive, leaning as it does toward the right wing libertarian ideas of Ayn Rand and the Adam Smith Institute. Such is the ideology of the now defunct Living Marxism magazine around which they grouped, with Cameron even working on its design.

How does that fit into your design for design’s sake, Cameron?

JoAnne Steele

JoAnne Steele Designs

London EC1

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