Monday, December 11, 2006

the designer...


"the words graphic designer, architect, or industrial designer stick in my throat, giving me a sense of limitation, of specialization within the specialty, of a relationship to society and form itself that is unsatisfactory and incomplete. this inadequate set of terms to describe an active life reveals only partially the still undefined nature of the designer" alvin lustig, 1956

alvin lustig designed graphically; creating book covers, logos, and other visuals for paper in all its glorious flatness. he also worked with dimensional forms, moving from signage to furniture to architecture; and, he worked with words - teaching, and writing a few seminal texts on the designer's role, approach, and practice.

5 of my favorite books i own are connected to lustig and have his hands and mind all over them. the other 4 (which i'll share in the next few days) were designed by him; but the picture above is the cover of a little book of his collected writings, published posthumously, in an edition of 600 copies in 1958 (the cover photo was taken by another of my heroes, experimental film maker, maya deren!)

most of lustig's writings were short magazine articles, or lectures, and his words move from the practical to the poetic. like george nelson, lustig wasn't just interested in designing, but expanding the thinking that went along with being a designer, and how that expanded thinking could affect the practice. as the quote at the top suggests, he was constantly attempting to expand the definition of what a designer could be and could mean. he can, at times, be as inspirational as agnes martin... here are a few gems:

"i have found that all positions men take in their beliefs are profoundly influenced by thousands of small, often imperceptible experiences that slowly accumulate to form a sum total of choices and decisions. rational and logical explanations for these are developed long after the basic work has been done."

"...this ability to see freshly, unencumbered by preconceived verbal, literary, or moral ideas, is the first step in responding."

"the ability to select, to find the truly organic solution, rather than the preconceived one... becomes more and more desirable."

"as instinctive decisions slowly develop and acquire support from other people and from ideas of a related nature, a system of response and action develops that makes you a specific individual with your own concept of reality. you will find delight where another finds ugliness...order where another sees chaos...clarity and elegance where another sees barrenness and sterility..."


Blogger Will said...

What do you think the chances are of someone reprinting this? (Ie., I'd love to do it, but wonder if publisher / copyright issues have prevented someone from doing it in the past.)

8:53 AM  

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