Don’t throw away the creativity with the cow gum…

I enjoyed Michael Peters’ nostalgic article (A lost world, DW 26 March). I loved the feel and smell of cow gum, too, and all the paraphernalia that he remembers.

For me, at that time in Wolff Olins, I remember three things particularly: the look of fresh proofs from precisely cut metal fonts; the joy of working with designers who were great artists and craftsmen; and the richness of thought, originality and conversation.

In today’s design studios, I don’t think life is as creative and pioneering as it was then. I think it’s been replaced by time pressures, visual mimicry, corporate jargon and seemingly staring myopically at screens.

I remember sharp wit, cruel criticism, delight in the elegance of ideas and simple, clear, plain and sometimes poetic writing, Language was integral to creativity. There was no marketing jargon.

Nobody would have dared to say, as your article on KLM says (www.designweek.co.uk 25 March), that this work was a ‘passenger experience refresh’, and, worse still, that it now has a Dutch heritage tagline, ‘refreshingly genuine’.

Apparently, Landor was chosen because of its ‘ability to bridge the gap between brand strategy and strategic brand design’. What about perceptive insights and brilliant design?

I shudder at the erosion of well-crafted plain English prose by this scourge of portentous jargon. It’s something pervading our business. I think language reveals quality of thought and poor language means poor thought and impoverished creativity.

Is the Apple Mac to blame, just as it is in creating the illusion of ideas? Maybe, but I admit I’ve been inspired by the exponential advance of technology and look forward to the challenges of the future.

However, I think now we need to abandon the jargon and spurious commerciality that we’ve acquired and rediscover the challenges and pleasures of great design and effective communication.

Michael Wolff, Michael Wolff and Company, London WC1



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