I've been thinking about history. Imagine, if you will, the Wild Wild West. What comes to mind first? Is it leather chaps and spurs? Sidearms and saloons? The reason we think of these things first is because society has programmed us this way. Now switch perspectives, and think of the era as if you lived then. The reason it was dubbed the Wild West is because it was just that; untamed. Wilderness. That was their reality.
We romanticize the past because it's more entertaining to do so. This theme is repeated through every major era in history; the roaring twenties, groovy sixties, and of course the iconic eighties. These romantic notions are easy for me to agree with, but only in regards to the period of American history circa 1960. My conception of the period since then, is tainted with a hint of disdain.
To explain where I'm coming from, let's remember I am a designer. I live and breathe design. I see the world through design tinted lenses. Like-minded people, designer or otherwise, will agree it's simply something that can't be shut off. When I think of the twenties, I think of posh lifestyle, elaborate parties, and great disappointment. But I also think of the America that period was born on the back of.
Before the age of industrialism everything was handmade. And with the exception of otherwise mass produced menial items, most everything manufactured was of a high quality. I like to think craftsmen represented a level of excellence that by and large has been lost in the past few decades (perhaps I harbor a few of my own romantic ideas).
Now contrast that with the cult movements of the sixties. The free-love and peace societies threw off the shackles of civilized mannerisms, three piece suits, and full-time jobs. It was a bastardizing of society in my opinion, and the start of a dark age for design.
From aforementioned design perspective, several things started downhill fast in the sixties. Fashion went out the window. Automobiles were able to hold on for another two decades, before it too succumbed to dilution. And the decline of design continued on well through the eighties and mid-nineties with the appalling overuse of denim jackets and big hair. I consider what was done to the Ford Mustang in the early nineties and late eighties to be criminal.
But that was the trend of the day; mass-produced waffle makers and easy bake ovens were the things to have. Thankfully, by the end of the twentieth century America slowed it's downward spiral late in the 1990's. This was brought about, in my humble opinion, in part due to the efforts of Steve Jobs, and Jonathon Ive, along with several other influential European designers. They have successfully, and in a short amount of time, re-educated the American populace about good design.
I believe the dark ages of design have ended, at least for now. Craftsmen are on the rise and corporations are learning to be more deliberate and responsible with their products. I'm sure to them the education of the consumer was quite disturbing.
And yet, even as I see my beloved craft shining in the spotlight, the rest of the world is unfortunately going insane! Hopefully sooner, rather than later, I'll be able to write about the downfall of this Instagram and Guido nonsense. Through the ingestion of amusing, but moronic, internet memes are we yet again bastardizing our society?
That's my rant for the month.
Until next time,