Design design, or non-design design?

Design or not designed?

A couple of years ago, I was judging a competition and found the most incredible stationery system for a car wash. It was authentic, exuberant, and wonderfully naïve. One of the other judges quickly told me that it wasn’t good; it was bad. It wasn’t done by a trained graphic designer, but by the owner of the car wash. It was “accidentally” wonderful. But I still loved it. So I faced the issue of design that is meant to refer to “non-designed” artifacts. If I had designed the clumsy but incredible car wash stationery, would that make it good? In the end I kept it in the show; good is good.

I’m asked often if I see any current trends. Typically I don’t. The profession has been playing safe for the past couple of years. I have, however, seen quite a bit of heavy bars, Helvetica, Times Roman, and one color printed on cheap paper. It’s the Dutch non-design design approach. When I received this great letter yesterday, I had to ask myself, “Is this that beautiful purposefully naïve non-design from a designer?” Or is this “bad?” I hate these aesthetic issues, so I’ve decided to simply ignore them. I especially like the paper business card taped to a magnet, and the nice note on the envelope. If I needed to apply a formal critique I would approach it this way: There is a refined sense of non-composed composition, and a clear understanding of the anxiety producing effect of a centered axis suddenly changing to a flush left approach. Very clever.