UK design critic Rick Poynor makes a socially conscious critique of Design Conferences (for Creative Review) this month. This is a very topical critique and a highly recommended read.
Admittedly, the celebrity culture that has developed in the design industry is not something I have followed since being a student, however I am quite shocked at some monochrome responses that have appeared after the article. It would seem apparent there is a certain dichotomy of designers around today, as one respondent comments:
When I read these comments it becomes clear to me the great spectrum that exists in the design world. Splashing around in the shallow end are those that play at making things pretty. And far on the other side there are those that are actually engaging in this great human process called communication.
As Poynor explains, many conferences have become a form of exhibition, a showcase of “famous” design work, however we must consider that students will forever love the opportunity to meet/see/admire their favourite designers (and there is nothing wrong with admiring your idols). As we develop into professionals however, there is certainly more to learn and think about than “new tricks and computer skills”. If everyone just learns how to recreate the same thing, designers will evolve into nothing but another form of technology.
We should indeed be “asking for” a new kind of design event, that gets its audience off their seats and using their talents to challenge current day social problems. I therefore agree with Poynor’s conclusion that smaller interactive debates, discussions and workshops (that consider social changes) will assist the Communication industry to evolve positively into the future, and perhaps eradicate the risk of stagnating all its designers into aesthetically-orientated tech-savvy talent.