Monday, 11 November 2013


1964 First Things First Manifesto

Written in the '60s when consumerism surged, through the public having more disposable income. At the time there are issues of civil rights/protests and anti-war demonstrations. 

Ken Garland was originally a founder of D&AD but left declaring it being to advertising based, and quit as a designer and activist. 

Graphic Design at the time was all towards functional and design for or to improve society, for example, tooth paste, cigarette packaging etc. Such mundane designs echo a society of designers who showed no creativity or expression through design and everything was designed as a functional or informative commodity. 

Designer's talents and uses can be used better elsewhere, and were being wasted through consumer culture. This was the point raised by Garland in the manifesto itself.

Design became for society and always had a purpose. A reversal of priorities would show often around this era in design.

2000 Manifesto

Along the same lines as the 1964 manifesto. Comes across more urgent in terms of design and consumerism, and as a wake up call as a challenge to the consumer system. 

Consumerism was continuously growing, and necessities designed for public consumption were the likes of bleach packaging etc, whilst now a necessity would be a car or a diamond for example  A massive change and contradiction shown over time. The change in objects and the list of products show a change in society, politics and the economy, which is reflected across the world. Now a car or a credit card are essential, whereas before the items targeted were the random trappings of consumer life. An ethical dilemma - slave labour, medical issues - smoking, recreational vehicles, etc - are all being targeted in the modern, present day.

It became more than designers wasting their talent. It became a point that designers are using their talents for unethical and political issues, opposed to just designing packaging and advertising. 

It is important to consider the social effect caused by this, 'dumbing' down society, and the resulting politicisation surrounding this.

Graphic Design became the vehicle for consumerism to launch off. 

Design activism has been promoted through this also.

First Things First (Revisited) by Rick Poynor

K. Garland became a CND campaigner. 

Commercialist art and design is political. If you work in this sector of design, then you are allegedly supporting the trade you work in, even if it a design brief, etc. 

By advertising and branding with companies with a bad socialist view, you are contributing the the socialist wealth of society  by supporting the general perpetuation of a system which ignores social problems, allowing no escape. 

This has become more important due to the aesthetics, rather than the meaning and the context it is in. It was suggested that due to this, graphic design should only be used for commercial purposes. 

Style was favoured over substance, whilst design is outside the concerns of politics. 

We live in a world which has been designed like this, and consumerism is a political problem designed the keep the pubic controlled, hence the need for resistance. 

Ten Footnotes Manifesto, by Michael Beirut (2007)

Beirut is a commercial designer, defending his current job role (Pentagram, Disney, Nike, etc). The ten footnotes are listed to show what it wrong about the manifesto, and how he would target it in his own work.

AdBusters 'Graphic Agitation' issue showed many issues with the consumerist culture at the time. Ethical issues.

Co-signatories are graphic 'cultural workers' opposed to a graphic designers also.

Designers approached by agencies, hired purely for consumerist design. The only purpose is to make something look aesthetically appealing for the consumer driven world to buy into. There is very little power into changing what they do with commercial and corporate design.

Designers enhance commercial design and make it much more effective. An oxy-moron, if someone likes how something looks or acts, etc then they will buy into it regardless, "when it comes to graphic designers, flattery gets you everywhere" (footnote, 5, pg. 57.). This shows how much graphic design manufactures the demand for product.

It is said that designers play on emotions of the public, by advertising and designing to these strengths. 

People are defined to buy certain specific things, designed by certain designers. What would the public do if the designers stopped, and didn't design anything else 'dropping out' of the design field. What would we do instead? How would this effect ethics and political issues? For example, Beirut says that people with an "economic affluence allows personal freedom to seek pleasure" (ft note 6, pg. 57) showing people buying into expensive products and consumerist values, needs and desires. 

Design, such as that seen in ad busters should be shocking and meaningful. But it is argued that there is nothing clean, to the point, functional design (e.g. FDA label), as mentioned in the 1964 original manifesto.

Shows how consumer rights and needs change so drastically and quickly over time.

There is no clear good cause anymore. Advertising - response to advertising. Is this evil or seen as a bad thing?

Life is complicated, and it is suggested that writing a manifesto would straighten it out, give form and function to a design. 

No clear choices.

The public were seen as one identity, where as identifying the public as separate thoughts and beings, enables better design work. Design became about making the client the focal point and the target of the product, advert and design at the tie - "if you think that's so easy, just try". (p.60)