Often, more design gets in the way. Often, more design doesn't help, it merely adds more problems. The trouble with this philosophy in a job where you get paid to design is that people think you're shirking the working. Or that you're trying to get away with doing very little.
This isn't the case.
As Rory Sutherland (again more eloquently than I) points out, "the
arising from excessive intervention – because “we must be seen to do
outweigh the benefits." In July he wrote a brilliant article about the
perils of intervening because you have to justify your existence. And
in the way only Rory Sutherland can he cited the examples of the many
people with personal physicians who die young.
"I can imagine what it must be like to be a personal
physician. Every day you must feel you have to do something to justify your
existence. Yet, in truth, most of the time people are better off being medically left
alone most of the time. And most illnesses may be best treated with rest and a
To further elaborate on my point eloquently read this article by Michael Bierut. As I pointed out earlier in the year he lists several pointers to being a successful designer. Here are the first three.
1. Keep it simple. 2. Don’t reinvent the wheel [Part 1]. 3. Don’t reinvent the wheel [Part 2].
Can you see a pattern building?
Good design is as little design as possible. The
arising from excessive intervention outweigh the benefits. Keep it simple. Don’t reinvent the wheel
"The book seeks to answer the question: if woman was designed then what exactly was the brief?... When the verbiage is shaken down, we discover that for Bayley the imaginary brief is to design a fuckable thing.".
As previously discussed I can't stand Stephen Bayley.
He didn't speak, he only chaired a session. But he was very well briefed, very well prepared and he spoke persuasively and intelligently. He had this great quote from Paul Saffo, "Just because something is inevitably going to happen, it doesn't mean it's going to happen any time soon".
What struck me most was how he never once said, err.
Granted, Peter Day is a professional broadcaster and he's been doing it for years and years, but still, he never once said "err". Not once. No umm's, no erm's, no you know's. I was so startled by this I counted erms and umms for the other speakers. On average (and my survey wasn't very scientific admittedly) no speaker could get through one minute without and an erm or an umm or a you know.
I realise that dropping countless 'you knows' into a presentation is mainly a stylistic issue and in the right circumstances it can be effective, but more often than not it's just lazy. It's very easy in this industry to convince yourself that you're a good presenter when actually you're just average. Good speakers are people like Peter Day, Tony Blair or Winston Churchill. As Jon Steel points out in his brilliant book (you have read that book haven't you?) Winston never needed any PowerPoint to get his point across. Neither did Peter Day.
I know Blair and Churchill and the like are talking about much more important things than the difference between Arial and Helvetica, but even your local MP could stand up for 45 minutes and give a competent speech about the local door knob society. No notes, no PowerPoint, no erms. John Dodds once saw Seth Godin stand on a char (in the middle of Buckingham Palace or somewhere) and talk about funny coloured cows for nearly an hour. Could you do that?
Next time you speak, try and do it without any erms.
I've just found some quotes from the Rodchenko exhibition that I jotted down when I was there. Here they are.
Rodchenko's maxim was "Our duty is to experiment". Isn't that cool? Imagine if in your job description it said, "Your duty is to experiment". Rodchenko pushed boundaries precisely because he kept on experimenting.
Here's another one, "Enough depicting, time to build". God, I love this. "Enough depicting, time to build". I feel like getting a tshirt done with this on for meetings. After 20 minutes I could stand up and grandly declare, "Enough depicting, time to build".
How many good ideas die of over "depicting". Too much talking no enough doing. You know that bit in the middle of a conversation when people say, "That's it. Do that." But then they keep on talking for days. Let's just stop at the "That's it. Do that" bit.
As my old boss used to say, "The work doesn't get any better the longer it sits around, old son".
I was talking to someone the other day and they said, "The last thing the world needs is another news website. You can't move in London without someone giving you the news". I love that quote. It's really stuck with me because it's so true, isn't it?
So since he said that I've been taking pictures every time I see someone (or something) giving me the news. That picture above is your standard noughties office reception. The news on three big flat TV's.
Here's another one. But this huge big glass fronted building allows the news to spill out on the street.
As does this one. They've used four screens, so they can show four different news channels.
I know it's a bad photograph but this is just outside Waterloo station. More news.
This is inside Waterloo station, also taken on bad photograph day.
Continuing the station theme, this is Kings Cross. So, inside office receptions, visible through the window, outside stations, inside stations.
At the airport.
On the way back from the airport. I appreciate this is a promotional thing for Bloomberg, but it's still news being thrust at you.
Likewise this is some promotion for Reuters who are situated just across the street. But still. News. Everywhere. These are all razzy screen based things, but there's also the more traditional method of London news delivery.
And now we have this new menace. They literally thrust the news at you.
Look there's one dressed in purple and one in yellow. Remember, "You can't move in London without someone giving you the news."
Look at this one. Watching. Waiting. Ready to pounce and give you the news.
And if you manage to make it home without being given the news, it's waiting for you at the Tube station. It's there all around you. Unavoidable.
The news even creeps into the most two hallowed places of British life. Tesco's.
And the pub. Why do you need the news in the pub? Why do you need the news in Tesco's?
Why do you need the news in a cheeky little Belgravia bistro? "You can't move in London without someone giving you the news"