About the current time - Part 2
The following about designs and designers in times of crisis: Designers are really good at thinking up and creating things, interiors, buildings, complex systems and smart and ingenious solutions. We designers have always been masters at designing functional, aesthetic and creative solutions that are original at the same time.
Because of the importance of design for selling and packaging ideas, good or bad, amoral or decent, it is important to me to refer to the daring and excellent exhibition entitled: Design of the Third Reich, in the Design Museum Den Bosch. This exhibition curated by Timo de Rijk intelligently shows the effect, the impact and the effect of a perfection and a strict aesthetic in all possible disciplines. From the SS uniforms by fashion designer Hugo Boss, (who doesn't want or don't have a suit or shirt of this brand?) To the propaganda films by Leni Riefenstahl, which were far ahead of their time in terms of cinematic techniques, choreography and aesthetics and of had a great influence on many later filmmakers and artists.
In short, an absolute highlight in the history of design.
And who could have guessed at the opening on September 8 of last year that the true essence; all that good design can bring about and that aesthetics have no morals, are currently more topical than ever. Unfortunately, this important exhibition ended on March 1 of this year, just before the Corona crisis erupted in full force.
But what I don't understand is the obvious ease with which many of my fellow designers; graphic, product, furniture, fashion and architects, come up with 'creative' solutions to deal with the existing draconian measures. In other words make it easier to implement the lockdown measures with all its limitations as comfortably and smoothly as possible.
At the intensely hip Mediamatic restaurant in Amsterdam, the owner Willem Velthoven even let himself be 'inspired' (really, his words) and 'redesigned' (again his own words) by all the precautions, he designed his restaurant in such a way that it is suitable for 'the new' eating out. Which means, among other things, that you will eat "cozy" in a glass mini-greenhouse with two or a maximum of three people. Rules are rules!
But that is not surprising when you cook for the cultural elite and you think you can afford to be unabashedly annoyed by all the 'stupid catering farmers' who say that it is impossible to be hospitable if you oblige to keep 1,5 meters distance from each other. And the undoubtedly hip audience takes it all for granted. I quote Willem Velthoven again who enthusiastically states: "We put the project on the website yesterday and it went like crazy." The next day there were not even any places available anymore.
Example two: On the site of my professional association BNO, in the section: Positive initiatives #, all kinds of tips and examples are given on how best to implement the draconian Corona measures. From a new icon set for the new way of working, a handy reboarding app from Total Design, a toolkit signage for nurseries, a container to meet each other safely and the now infamous Corona Barometer. For example, I involuntarily wonder whether Bureau Meijksenaar, or any other design agency, would also accept an assignment to design better signage for mandatory vaccinations? In my view, you can compare the compulsory vaccinations with the concentration camps of that time. And now the system, the ruler, the Deep State is not targeting the Jews, but us, we, humanity.
Give any designer a problem and in no time he has at least three good solutions. Good solutions that are usually workable and good to implement.
We designers are very well trained to meet the demands of others and to satisfy a client. To put it simply: You ask, we turn.
The expression "spicing things up" (In Dutch we call it "opleuken".) is often used by designers in this context to indicate that the design in question may have some "more". A little more "spice" or more "fun", for example. ‘We’ designers then perfectly understand what is meant and what is expected of us.
But designers are again very poorly trained to assess an assignment on its value: simply put, whether something is good or not. Indeed, that is quite difficult to explain to others, as I have noticed myself. My advice is to mainly rely on your gut feeling. Whether something feels okay or not. Don't you feel it. Then not. Do you feel it. Then yes. In both cases I advise everyone to listen to your heart and then act on it with all the energy, conviction and enthusiasm you have inside you, regardless of the outcome. And then hope for the best.
And then the mouth masks. The satanic pleasure with which the government asks people to sew their own masks together (just to be clear: I am therefore not in principle against the wearing of mouth masks, but only to protect vulnerable groups of people such as the elderly, people with lung and heart disease and a weak immune system (and not mandatory for all people, and not at all for the outdoors). As if the occupier in World War II would ask the Jewish population to make their own Jews stars! The frankness and ease with which all kinds of designers suddenly start designing 'nice' mouth masks, I honestly find sad and frightening at the same time. I make this sensitive comparison to my full consciousness, because it indicates the essence of what it is all about. George Orwell described it perfectly in his famous visionary book 1984:
“He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark mustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother. ”
In other words it is not enough just to listen to the system, you must also love the system.
And not one critical sound can be heard about those "fun" designed face masks. Well with this then. Those masks are to me symbolic of the oppression that we all experience today. Because in reality, of course, they are just muzzles disguised as cute, beautiful, pimped mouth masks. In fact, they're just muzzles!
Why? Because these masks make it impossible for us to show our individual facial expression in a natural way and so we are limited in our way of communicating with our fellow human beings, ergo in our right to express our opinion freely. You can say that in this way we are actually "dehumanized". And that is starting to look a lot like censorship.
And it's also how ironic, literally, happens right in our face. Or better: make it happen. How clear do you want it. And hardly anyone who knows, or so it seems.