While I’m on the subject of innovative uses of Flickr, another one is the use of tagging to created pools of shared photos. This is nothing new, but seeing the Wim Crouwel photo pool or the Dieter Rams photo pool, I can begin to imagine how a collectively-authored design monograph might begin to take shape.
I was recently asked by Lauren Mackler, a former student of mine at RISD, to be part of a project she’s working on that will collect thoughts on the question of authorship in design from a range of people working in the field. While it’s an abstract and difficult subject to approach, I noticed that my writing has only dealt with this issue in a glancing way, and this seemed like a good time to get a few more concrete thoughts on the table. What follows really just lays out the issues as I see them in the broadest possible sense. It’s kind of a “brain dump.” There are, I’m sure, projects more nuanced and interstitial than those my analysis allows for, and I think that’s all for the good. Designers can and should challenge how their work is considered by the public and authorship is part of that. But as they initiate these challenges, they will inevitably encounter at least a few of the issues I outline below, and, in those cases, I hope that sharing these thoughts will be of some help. —RG
Authorship in design is a sticky question, and always has been. There are a few considerations: collaboration, control, voice, and limits. The questions that follow from these considerations are simple enough. If—like architects or filmmakers, but unlike bookwriters or oil painters—we collaborate on our projects with a huge array of people, including paying clients, regulatory and legal institutions, fellow design staff and subcontractors, printers and fabricators, merchants and mailing houses, are we even able to “author” a work? To aid us in this discussion on collaboration’s impact on authorship, some designers (in particular Michael Rock) have pointed out Andrew Sarris’s auteur model, developed for the analysis of filmmaking.
Hosted by Alice Twemlow, Chair of SVA’s new D-Crit program, this historic evening with Wim Crouwel and Massimo Vignelli was an inspiring and energetic journey through two outstanding lives in design. Rob Giampietro and Laura Forde co-chaired the event for AIGA/NY, which was made possible by Presenting Sponsors Imagination, Parsons The New School for Design, and Knoll. After the event—Crouwel’s first in New York since 1965 and one of the few times he and Vignelli have spoken together—the two speakers offered AIGA/NY their responses to the famous Proust Questionnaire: Crouwel’s is here, and Vignelli’s is here. The event has gotten some coverage already. Over at DESIGNY, the AIGA/NY blog, Michael Brenner has a great write-up of the evening’s conversation. More write-ups on Monoscope and Unbeige, along with the charmingly titled People for the Ethical Treatment of Typography and Swiss Legacy. The photo above is taken from Kevin McCauley’s write-up, and Andy has perhaps our favorite response on his blog Reference Library. More photos from Laura Forde on Flickr.