What is design to you? Is it a way to communicate ideas? Is design a way to emulate modern trends and lifestyles? Does design help improve user experience?
Perhaps most importantly, a good design can communicate ideas as well as instructions on using a product. Whether designers conceptualize a responsive hearing aid based on a mobile app, make a website to explain the latest federal legislation, or create a bike that grows as your child grows, good design involves more than just making something pretty: it involves creating something that makes life easier. Paying close attention to the way users interact with design is a chief reason Apple was named the #1 best global brand of 2013.
Not everyone, however, pays attention to the utility of design. Some people are so focused on aesthetics and trends that they prefer stylish designs over functional ones. It’s this backward way of thinking that graphic designer Amy West critiques in her fake design studio experiment “Grafik_BS.”
Throughout the summer West posted stylish posters with meaningless messages to the fake studio’s Behance profile, going so far as to publish a website, produce a video interview with the studio’s non-existent creative director Bjorn Svenson, and maintain a Twitter account. While the Twitter account (somewhat viciously) calls out others for supporting the work of the satirical agency, the video interview embodies the design industry faux pas West mocks:
In the interview, Svenson points out everything a creative director should not believe:
Style is the most important thing to me. You hear people talking about communication, idea-generation, and, uh, user experience, and… No. No. Someone is gonna like something that is nice. So that is how we work.”
Despite the pointlessness of the poster designs, West reports that Grafik_BS received “hundreds of appreciations, positive comments on the style of the posers, and even a job application for a position in the studio.” That a fake design studio can receive so much recognition online speaks to the haphazard way we consume on the internet.
“The experiment proved that there is an online community practicing design, with the understanding that the entire process consists solely of applying style to anything,” West writes on her site.
The moral of the story: The next time you design a product for the world to see, please remember Grafik_BS. Think not just about your design’s aesthetics, think about the way your design helps your users understand or use something new.