“...design has become, more often than not, a badge of mediocrity. The old Modernist dream of good design standing for rationality and human values has been flipped. Today, good design is little more than a cosmetic agent, an obscuring agent. When I see my favorite sandwich bar introduce a slick new fascia and smart window decals, a little wave of disappointment runs through me. You don’t see the work of sign writers any more; it’s hard to find handmade signs and ramshackle window displays. The urban environment is now over-designed. It's all too branded, too inhuman.”
While I agree that many shoddy businesses hide themselves behind slick graphics, I bristle at the broad claim of good design being little more than an obscuring agent in contemporary culture. Perhaps the definition of “good design” needs to be modified, because it seems now clear that the Modernist dream was just that–a dream–and not a sufficiently thought out starting point for all design endevours. I think it is very reactive thinking to assume that contemporary nomenclature and design standards make it impossible for authenticity and creativity to thrive. In fact, a self-conscious clinging to the “olde-worlde” aesthetic is far more manipulative in the long run.