It’s interesting to hear Neville Brody motivation’s for the Anti Design Festival he and his team are planning for London in September.
An important part of this for him, however, is tackling topics like disappointment and failure that have become grossly unpopular in an age where achievement and slick presentation is everything, but which are essential to realising creative potential.
‘Disappointment will be a major theme,’ he says. ‘We’ll be embracing disappointment.’ He’s even prepared for the festival not to work – though with class acts like Stefan Sagmeister, type star Jonathan Barnbrook and illustrators Ian Wright and Harry Malt contributing and Daniel Charny running workshops, it’s bound to yield something of great merit in the eyes of mere mortals such as myself.
In saying that it’s about ideas, rather than polish, Brody is harking back to the pre-Thatcher era before design became a business and Photoshop and the like could make even the roughest sketch look finished. Experimentation was more acceptable then, he maintains, and if something didn’t work – ie you hit failure – you just moved on.
Brody’s ideas will have a resonance with many a creative soul struggling in an age when success is the only acceptable course. We hear it too from product designers bemoaning the decline in research and development within client companies that can lead to as many happy accidents that take the designers into previously-unthought-of directions as it does failures.
Elements of the ADF might tap into another ‘mood’ we’ve been detecting in design for some time – the return of hand-making and basic craft skills in areas like graphics and illustration, which we’re told, is hitting the art world as well. Designers and illustrators including Anthony Burrill and Lizzie Mary Cullen have pursued this route and the huge popularity of the print element at Somerset House’s Pick Me Up show earlier in the year bore testament to the desire to get in there and get your hands dirty, rather than rely on the homogeneity more often afforded by the computer screen.
It’s a great time for Brody to be calling a slight halt to what has become conventional thinking about design and drawing together a host of folk who have long shared his thoughts and practices. It is also good to see designers of all disciplines mixing media to make their creative concepts real.
Design is a commercial endeavor, but maybe we as a community were starting to forget the ideas and experimentation side that can lead to delight and inspiration beyond expectations rather than working solely within the confines of the client’s brief.