GRAPHIC #17 When Design Becomes Attitude

Type: Project Editor
Client: GRAPHIC (Korea)
Publication date: February, 2011
Format: 23 x 30 cm
Design: Na Kim

This issue deals with graphic designers' practices expanding the boundaries of graphic design. Based on works of 10 teams, it reveals how designers' attitudes transform design.

“When design becomes attitude.” You may have heard of this before. This title, which has been slightly modified, originates from curator Harald Szeemann's legendary exhibition, “When attitudes become form” held in Kunsthalle Berne, in 1968.

Although this issue of GRAPHIC doesn't necessarily have an immediate connection to Szeemann's exhibition, the contents fall within a similar context. At that time, with its unprecedented showcasing of radical art trends in Europe such as Conceptual Art, Performance Art and Minimalism, the exhibition brought a sudden turn in the art world by “exhibiting” concepts, processes and the attitude of artists rather than the physical presence of those works. Today's design practice is rapidly moving towards process-oriented works based on the designers’ autonomy, away from the conventional relationship between client and designer. A considerable number of designers reflect their attitude in their work or even regard their attitude itself as a project. In this issue, we are examining the designer's attitude as a factor signifying change and the meaning of design practice created by it. This is also an exploration of one of the most important attributes in the design of our times.

Altogether ten projects have participated in this issue. Whether they are well-known or not yet recognized, these projects exemplify how the designer's attitude can give birth to new concepts. For the past ten years, the journal Dot Dot Dot has significantly influenced contemporary graphic designers by modeling the role of the “designer as editor”. The recent projects of Metahaven (NL) and FF (KR) who voluntarily engage in acute social issues, Parallel School and Corner College (CH) as innovative and alternative models of design and art education, and the manifesto group Conditional Design (NL) who understand design as a process and condition that allows communication between internal and external elements also show notable recent examples of using attitude as motivation for their work.

In a similar vein, Showroom (UK) which seeks new design possibilities within the modern art field and Civic City (CH) as a research project on the urban environment introduce design methodologies that are rather alike. On the other hand, IFS (US), based in New York, incorporate micro-economic issues (outside of the common notions in graphic design) in their project to exhibit a distinctive viewpoint on the art publication and distribution and its sustainability, while transforming this issue of GRAPHIC into their distribution platform. Lastly, there is Kit-Toast (KR), a self-contained artists' project group that work on both personal and group projects.

Amongst the diverse focus of the projects', all ten projects are in tune with the message that the boundaries of the designer’s role could expand “when design becomes attitude”. We hope this issue will deliver ideas relating to this message, and if the reader is a designer, that this would be an opportunity to reevaluate his or her “attitude”.

We would like to thank all the contributors who devoted their time and effort for this issue. Especially, some of them suggested their own forms of participation which were very interesting. There were some projects that could not be put in this issue because of several procedural problems. We would like to thank them as well.

Conditional Design
Corner College
Dexter Sinister (Stuart Bailey)
Emily Pethick
Jesko Fezer, Matthias Görlich
Parallel School