Where is the designer when design becomes automated by algorithms? Will the next generation of designers come from the digital sweatshops piling up across Asia? Is there an equivalent to attention deficit disorder that defines contemporary design cultures? The impulse is to answer these last two questions in the affirmative and the implication of the first is that a programmed decisionism blows disciplinary borders into oblivion. Web-generated design slogans provide an index of incoherence that signals the future-present of design disciplines: ‘Design criteria future, love it or leave it’. ‘Keep going well, keep going quality design control’. There’s a semblance of sense here, but not much more. The disarray of design grammar is at once refreshing and without foundation. The aesthetics of connection across time and space no longer institutes the history of design as we know it, no matter what national culture you wish to identify. Tomorrow’s designers have no sense of continuum. Their style is driven by affective desires and economic urgencies – two conflicting forces that hold their own distinct brutalities, but without guarantees for design futures. Since the academies are so questionable, the serious designer might fairly ask ‘where to then’? Eclecticism is rarely without interest and populates the streets with great abundance across the world. Translation is the key to post-disciplinary design.
Published in Geert Lovink and Mieke Gerritzen (eds) Everyone is a Designer in the Age of Social Media, Amsterdam: BIS Publishers, 2010, pp. 97-99.