Talking about design, no one seems to be right or wrong. A common disease is being too romantic—or narrow sighted—and go back to where it all began: the rural form-follows-function story, the petty bourgeois art-versus-design debate or the postmodern vision of an invisible design. A major mistake though is ignoring Immanuel Kant’s elaborations and reducing design to one’s own taste. I have little if no interest in that.
Gradually, I understood that, before seriously talking about design, one has at least to accomplish the following: absorb the comparatively scarce theory on the matter, be aware of western consumption patterns, at least since the invention of the vibrator in the 1880s, get rid of one’s own infantile preconceptions—not to say language restrictions—and finally be prepared to accept the inevitable confrontation with the unexpected.
This accomplished, design reveals itself as a wonderful thing, or the human being’s original impetus. Realizing that politics are just as much about design as the making of vases and megacities, running a blue chip company or a Chinese restaurant, writing a scientific book or a love letter, is the inevitable consequence.
If design can be that much, I still wonder why people know so little, and talk so scarcely about it. I suspect that the original idea of industrial design as an exquisitely businesslike topic, related to the making and selling goods, has much limited the spreading of a broader design understanding. Still today, most media seem to consider design talking as a sophisticated form of advertising.
Design is definitely connected to consumption. Modernity has increased its evidence to an almost crazy pace though. But then, just absolutely anything—except city traffic—has got faster: the way we communicate, consume and manage goods, thoughts, relationships.
Nobody likes the idea of design as a superdiscipline. Undeniably, design is everywhere at any time, as is the need to talk about it. Seriously, if possible. Which also means, not taking design too seriously, not trying to make it feel snob (like art) or academic (like cultural sciences) or technical (like engineering).
While it is less of a discipline than a trans-discipline or even indiscipline. It is the most human centered of all sciences. Material and immaterial at the same time. That of design is an eminently free world. First thing to avoid is linking it too closely to the wallpaper kind of lifestyle.
Talking about design is talking about life. Daily life with all the ups and downs, good and bad. Being into design—and really into it—implies handling all the dimensions of our society. Out there. Therefore I hate design museums—prisons of taste—and call for a design to go with anybody, everywhere, anytime.
This lesson I understood early enough. My guru has been Stephen Bayley, whose Sex, drinks and fast cars (great title for a sweetly serious book, don’t you think?) has been a revelation to me back in 1989. Besides, I shall not forget Tom Wolfe, Thomas Hine and Donald Richie—all masters of creative writing, all witty observers of society. All of them actually of Anglo-Saxon heritage.
Unable—because of my latinity—to reach their literary heights, I try to match with passion and flexibility. My writing aims at both the upper minded readers of domus (the art, architecture & design bible where I began writing) or Handelsblatt (Germany’s economical and financial paper, where I write a weekly column) and the hugely popular pages of Bild (where I may show up on Sundays) or any sort of corporate publication (often reaching millions of people).
I am a passionate writer and I would write almost anything: brand names and books, epitaphs and press releases, interviews and forewords, tweets and love letters. Would you like anything to read? Please enjoy! I shall keep adding content for your pleasure and convenience.