Neville Brody: Anti-Design (and anti-kerning, apparently)

marcox's picture
Si_Daniels's picture

Who's Al?

PublishingMojo's picture

As Eliot Arnold's client Bruce observed in the movie Big Trouble, "I'm not paying for ugly. I can get ugly for free."

russellm's picture

What about carefully contrived "ugly".

PublishingMojo's picture

If it's contrived enough, I guess you can still get paid for ugly.

Nick Shinn's picture

This is what is known as a MONOWIDTH font, where all the letters are the same width.
While it is certainly possible to kern such a font for display purposes, that is the kind of slick practice that the Anti-Design folk are questioning.
Therefore, this typesetting BEAUTIFULLY and in purely typographic terms demonstrates the meaning of the Anti-Design Festival.

kimiller's picture

Thanks for the laugh, sii!

blank's picture

1995 called, they want their pretense back.

Si_Daniels's picture

>This is what is known as a MONOWIDTH font

Not quite. re-lined up bitmap...

Nick Shinn's picture

True, some letters aren't monowidth, but most are, enough that my explanation still stands, wouldn't you say?

Si_Daniels's picture

True. Kerning would be anti-anti-design.

Rob O. Font's picture

It'd depend on who's kerning now wouldn't it?

Cheers!

eliason's picture

Not quite. re-lined up bitmap...

Oh, now just because it's a monowidth font all the letters have to line up? You're so stuck in "design," man.

oldnick's picture

Are "creative innovators" anything like "pretentious poseurs"?

Rob's picture

Are the widows in the antidesign wordpress link 'antidesign' or anti-anti-design? I'm easily confused.

Nick Shinn's picture

Rather a pretentious poseur than a smug philistine.

oldnick's picture

The premise of the article, as I see it, is that Design has become the province of smug philistines. Perhaps this is simply an affirmation of Hannah Arendt's observation that, at least in the US of A, culture and commodity have become synonymous. Andy Warhol definitely proved that to be the case; perhaps all art which follows him reinforces the observation...

David Rault's picture

Neville Brody is sooooo overrated. David Carson as well.

Elias's picture

Please help me. How is the festival logo in any way anti-design?

cerulean's picture

I think "anti-design" is supposed to be like "antihero": still design, but with a deliberate choice to look bad instead of good.

From the ADF Manifesto:
We are living in an age where millions of colours became 256.

Uh...who is limited to 8-bit color in 2010? I'm not even sure how this metaphor for conformity is supposed to work, but it certainly isn't topical. I can see how a staunch anti-consumerist might refuse to buy a new computer for twenty years and thus be stuck with 256 colors, but if so, that was your choice, not that of the consumer culture.

eliason's picture

Uh...who is limited to 8-bit color in 2010?

They explain that further on in the manifesto:

For 25 years we have been in a state of Deep Freeze.

maxgraphic's picture

It's funny that you don't see anti-mechanics who incompetently fix your car or anti-lawyers who intentionally botch your estate planning, but somehow it makes sense to pursue anti-design. Sigh.

Ray Larabie's picture

The way the manifesto is written infuriates me but I like what's being said. The 256 colors point is distractingly stupid.

blank's picture

It's funny that you don't see anti-mechanics who incompetently fix your car or anti-lawyers who intentionally botch your estate planning, but somehow it makes sense to pursue anti-design.

But don’t you see that the ubiquity of design is what makes it special? Designers manufacture contemporary reality, man! It’s so much more important than other ubiquitous things like food or plumbing or garbage collection that we need to all navel gaze!

Nick Shinn's picture

There are anti-establishment lawyers and mechanics.

Anti-design is about how competency is defined, not about how much is appropriate.

Don't you guys remember the purges of punk rock and grunge?

The cultural establishment needs to be purged periodically, to keep things vital.
To get rid of the rote methods that equate design with mere technical proficiency in mindlessly following established templates.

Rob O. Font's picture

>To get rid of the rote methods that equate design with mere technical proficiency in mindlessly following established templates.

I absolutely agree. We are currently living through the least creative, most technically confined period I can see in the entire history of visual communications since the invention of the screw in the 3rd century b.c. This kind of thing has been too long in coming in my opinion and is the shape of things to come.

>Neville Brody is sooooo overrated. David Carson as well.

I'd be interested in what rating system you've made up in your own mind. Or, better yet, I'd like to know examples of really creative, successful, communally active information designers who are well known and underrated.

Cheers!

Steven Acres's picture

But Nick, I have Photoshop. That means I'm a designer.

Chris Rugen's picture

The anti-London Design Festival festival logo reads as being anti-design, rather than anti-corporate or pro-creativity. So now we all spend time bickering about that instead of thinking about the message.

I'm so tired of these periodic "manifestos" from graphic designers. Don't lecture people about consumption and technology with a superior tone. "We have exchanged freedom for peace. What we need is Liberation." What? Liberation? From what? Creative habits? Are we gearing up for the next deconstructivist, anti-legibility movement in design that can be used sell Pepsi? Graphic design has its mouth open beneath the spigots of commerce. It's how we buy all of our nice stuff. It's what we use to fund our other work. Some of the biggest names on that list have served large corporate clients.

Take the nine days for creative release and refreshing. I bet it will be fantastic. Lord knows we could all use a bit of that from time to time. And I love and respect the work of many of the names associated with this event. But *please* stop turning these things into something more than they are. It's an art and design event sponsored by a residential developer in London.

And by the way, kern your g--damn type.

russellm's picture

Any manifesto that doesn't end with, "Up against the wall, MOFOs!" isn't worth the paper it's designed on.

I'm just sayin'

Ray Larabie's picture

I like it it. I don't know exactly what they're on about but it sounds good to me. Just because we have the time and the paint doesn't mean we need to decorate our caves. Should we design because it's good? Because we just should? Should we consider the option of not designing? Maybe there are times when it's better not to. Maybe our eyes need a break from design.

I escape from design nightly. I've got interfaces on my phone, my iPod, my TV, my DVD players, my media box, my Wii, my DS, GPS. Every web site is a new interface. But when I catch up on my favorite sites, I do it through an RSS reader. No matter how a site is designed, it's all the same Helvetica on a white background to me. Sure, I'm on a sofa that was designed using an iPod that was designed with and app that was designed. But I'm insulated from the design on those 100 or so sites that I visit. I don't experience 100 different color schemes. 100 different menus. 100 different layouts. There's a case where I think eliminating design is good. Maybe it's not the same as what they're talking about but I think I understand the desire to think critically about whether or not design is needed in every situation.

Oh wait. This won't help me sell more fonts. I meant to say "fuck you, anti-design!"

wongxiao's picture

Art for art’s sake was sacrificed for entertainment and bums on seats. Ideas became cliches and anything different was viewed with suspicion and disdain.

Where is it written that we can't have "art for art's sake?" Anyone can make art for art's sake—just don't expect it to sell! What, they want me to pay money (or complments) for art that I don't like just because the "artist" is absolutely enamored with it, and it's brimming with emotional significance for him? Somehow I get the feeling that kind of art wouldn't make it far even in the "anti-design festival." There's a place for that kind of "art:" next to the grocery list on his parents' fridge.

And since when does commercialism or capitalism regard things that are different as bad? I come from a film background, not a graphics background, so my examples are only tangentially relevant, but I'd like to point out that 3D animation (even animation in general) is very much new and different. Films like Toy Story, UP, The Incredibles, and WALL-E didn't earn near-unanimous popular and critical acclaim for being the same as everything else—it was being different that made them competitive! If anything, consumerism rewards artists who dare to be different.

Why else do we have positive connotations with words or phrases like "visionary," "groundbreaking," or "defies convention?"

My philosophy is that, as artists (who intend to create art as a living, not as a hobby), we get paid to make things for people that they find beautiful (or thought-provoking, or meaningful). To successfully and truly defy convention in art is not to reject what we already know to be beautiful, but rather to create something nobody before knew was beautiful. And many times, it's more the case that someone once, found it to be beautiful, and the artist is merely reminding us.

I would submit that failing to kern a "VA" pair on a website banner is not progress in art. It is not a Dangerous Idea nor a thaw from the Deep Freeze. It is not Freedom from Freedom, and it is not Liberation (on a side note, does making proper nouns out of your own lingo make it more effective?).

Just my two cents....

EDIT:

Maybe it's not the same as what they're talking about but I think I understand the desire to think critically about whether or not design is needed in every situation.

But isn't the conclusion that "design" is unnecessary in a given situation a design decision in and of itself?

Ray Larabie's picture

I think they're exploring the option of non design. Exploring is smart, even if it's things you think are dumb. The anti-commercialism angle is just standard student fare . . . like wearing Doc Marten's and pretending to like jazz.

wongxiao's picture

I think they're exploring the option of non design. Exploring is smart, even if it's things you think are dumb.

True, although I kind of think that such exploration itself constitutes design. I mean, if you're thinking about how best to accomplish something—even if that happens to mean plain, unadorned, black Helvetica on white—I'm inclined to call it design.

Now if we want to deliberately not think out how best to accomplish something, I'd call that non-design. It's also non-intuituve, but I suppose I can see how it has its place.

The anti-commercialism angle is just standard student fare . . .

Ah! I suppose I should have seen that. It's just that the manifesto practically invites others to pick it to bits! I couldn't resist doing so just a little bit....

eliason's picture

To successfully and truly defy convention in art is not to reject what we already know to be beautiful, but rather to create something nobody before knew was beautiful. And many times, it's more the case that someone once, found it to be beautiful, and the artist is merely reminding us.

Nicely put, Sigmund!

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