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robertogreco : potlatch   8

DE$IGN | Soulellis
"I’ve been thinking a lot about value and values.

Design Humility and Counterpractice were first attempts to build a conversation around the value of design and our values as designers. They’re highly personal accounts where I try to articulate my own struggle with the dominant paradigm in design culture today, which I characterize as —

speed
the relentlessness of branding
the spirit of the sell
the focus on product
the focus on perfection

and they include some techniques of resistance that I’ve explored in my recent work, like —

thingness
longevity
slowness (patience)
chance (nature, humility, serendipity)
giving away (generosity echo)

I’ve been calling them techniques, but they’re really more like values, available to any designer or artist. Work produced with these criteria runs cross-grain to the belief that we must produce instantly, broadcast widely and perform perfectly.

Hence, counterpractice. Cross-grain to common assumptions. Questioning.

And as I consider my options (what to do next), I’m seriously contemplating going back to this counterpractice talk as a place to reboot. Could these be seen as principles — as a platform for a new kind of design studio?

I’m not sure. Counterpractice probably need further translation. An idea like ”slowness” certainly won’t resonate for many, outside of an art context. And how does a love for print-on-demand and the web fit in here? Perhaps it’s more about “variable speed” and the “balanced interface” rather than slow vs fast. Slow and fast. Modulated experience. The beauty of a printed book is that it can be scanned quickly or savored forever. These aren’t accidental qualities; they’re built into the design.

[image by John Maeda: "DE$IGN"]

I’m thinking about all of this right now as I re-launch Soulellis Studio as Counterpractice. But if there’s anything that most characterizes my reluctance to get back to client-based work, it’s DE$IGN.

John Maeda, who departed RISD in December, where I am currently teaching, recently delivered a 4-minute TED talk, where he made this statement:

“From Design to DE$IGN.”

He expands that statement with a visual wordmark that is itself designed. What does it mean? I haven’t seen the talk yet so I can only presume, out of context. These articles and Maeda’s blog post at Design and Venture begin to get at it.

Maeda’s three principles for using design in business as stated in the WSJ article are fine. But they don’t need a logo. Designing DE$IGN is a misleading gesture; it’s token branding to sell an idea (in four minutes—the fast read). So what’s the idea behind this visual equation? As a logo, it says so many things:

All caps: DE$IGN is BIG.
It’s not £ or ¥ or 元: DE$IGN is American.
Dollar sign: DE$IGN is money.

DE$IGN is Big American Money.

and in the context of a four-minute TED talk…

DE$IGN is speed (four minutes!)
DE$IGN is the spirit of selling (selling an idea on a stage to a TED audience)
DE$IGN is Helvetica Neue Ultra Light and a soft gradient (Apple)
DE$IGN is a neatly resolved and sellable word-idea. It’s a branded product (and it’s perfect).

In other words, DE$IGN is Silicon Valley. DE$IGN is the perfect embodiment of start-up culture and the ultimate tech dream. Of course it is — this is Maeda’s audience, and it’s his new position. It works within the closed-off reality of $2 billion acquisitions, IPOs, 600-person design teams and Next Big Thing thinking. It’s a crass, aggressive statement that resonates perfectly for its audience.

[Image of stenciled "CAPITALISM IS THE CRI$IS"]

DE$IGN makes me uneasy. The post-OWS dollar sign is loaded with negative associations. It’s a quick trick that borrows from the speed-read language of texting (lol) to turn design into something unsustainable, inward-looking and out-of-touch. But what bothers me most is that it comes from one of our design leaders, someone I follow and respect. Am I missing something?

I can’t help but think of Milton Glaser’s 1977 I<3NY logo here.

[Milton Glaser I<3NY]

Glaser uses a similar trick, but to different effect. By inserting a heart symbol into a plain typographic treatment, he too transformed something ordinary (referencing the typewriter) into a strong visual message. Glaser’s logo says that “heart is at the center of NYC” (and it suggests that love and soul and passion are there too). Or “my love for NYC is authentic” (it comes from the heart). It gives us permission to play with all kinds of associations and visual translations: my heart is in NYC, I am NYC, NYC is the heart of America, the heart of the world, etc. .

Glaser’s mark is old-school, east coast and expansive; it symbolizes ideas and feelings that can be characterized as full and overflowing. And human (the heart). It’s personal (“I”), but all about business: his client was a bankrupt city in crisis, eager to attract tourists against all odds.

Maeda’s mark is new money, west coast and exclusive. It was created for and presented to a small club of privileged innovators who are focused on creating new ways to generate wealth ($) by selling more product.

Clever design tricks aside, here’s my question, which I seem to have been asking for a few years now. Is design humility possible today? Can we build a relevant design practice that produces meaningful, rich work — in a business context — without playing to visions of excess?

I honestly don’t know. I’m grappling with this. I’m not naive and I don’t want to paint myself into a corner. I’d like to think that there’s room to resist DE$IGN. I do this as an artist making books and as an experimental publisher (even Library of the Printed Web is a kind of resistance). But what kind of design practice comes out of this? Certainly one that’s different from the kind of business I built with Soulellis Studio."
paulsoulellis  2014  conterpractice  design  humility  capitalism  resistance  branding  speed  slow  consumerism  sales  salesmanship  perfection  wabi-sabi  thingness  longevity  slowness  patience  nature  chance  serendipity  generosity  potlatch  johnmaeda  questioning  process  approach  philosophy  art  print  balance  thisandthat  modulation  selling  ted  tedtalks  apple  siliconvalley  startups  culture  technology  technosolutionsism  crisis  miltonglaser  1977  love 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Birdland Jazz » FAQ
"What is your business model?

Our business model is to lose money every bbq/jazz event; and we are very good at it; so good at it that we have expanded bbq/music programming to three days a week and will soon add Thursday nights when we get another neighborhood dog to volunteer to clean up after rib bones in the venue. We are not for profit nor are we non-profit. We are a for loss social venture. It is based on an old Northwestern Native American tradition of competitive wealth destruction called Potlatch where members of the tribe or community destroy their wealth occasionally and shower the entire community with food and gifts; in our case we shower our members with food and music three times a week. Even if that means the week’s sponsor eats Top Ramen or sardines in a can the entire week to pay for the weekend’s bbq, our sponsors in the neighborhood will do it.

How can I support Birdland?

1. Sponsorship: Don’t eat for a week or eat top ramen and sardines, save that money and pay for the bbq that weekend.

2. Weekly Funraisers: Jazzistas are all about raising the level of fun, hence fun raisers, get it? So bring your positive vibe and fun energy to Birdland. Come to Birdland not to wind down from the week’s beatdown from work but to wind up and energize the folks around you.

3. Donation: Support the musicians at the door with your donation while you eat free bbq for 10 hours(9pm-6am, look at our menu–it’s straight, no chaser comfort food) and drink non alcoholic drinks, usually aqua frescas. You don’t need to bring food since it’s a POTLATCH, not potluck. BYOB to share with other jazzistas. If you don’t share your beer or wine, jazzistas will gossip about you and will call you all sorts of names behind your back and look at you like you just stole from their mothers.

4. Email List: Pinky, the beagle and Herschel, the black lab/mastiff mix have not learned how to type or use the internet; they are too busy eating leftover ribs on the sidewalk, the backyard, and the park so good luck getting an email from both of them. You know where Birdland is and when the party is going on and the websites: we have an alternative website:http://jazzista.org/

5. Wish List:

- Jazzistas should take their naps so they can stay up later in the night…ideal time to go home is 3am, at least.

- Jazzistas should have a voracious appetite for BBQ, music, and conversation.

- Jazzistas should be generous with other human beings and throw their plates and beer bottles in the right container and give their rib bones to the neighborhood dogs that attend.

- Jazzistas have 30 minute(that usually means it takes one hour to say goodbye at Birdland)goodbye conversations;

- Jazzistas don’t leave without saying goodbye to the new friends they met at Birdland.

- Jazzistas leave the last piece of meat for someone else who might be hungry or offer their last beer to some other stranger even if they really need another drink.

- If all else fails, go back to grandmother; she’ll put some common sense into your head. As my grandma used to tell me, “Use your common sense, boy!!!!!”

6. Volunteer: Clean up after yourself at the social club. Didn’t your momma train you right that you treat somebody else’s house like you treat your own house? Take two minutes before you leave each time you come to clean up after yourself, your friends, and other Jazzistas.

7. Sponsor a bbq because sometimes the bbq sponsors in the neighborhood are broke on that weekend too. But give from the heart without expecting something in return. We can always party with hot dogs and hamburgers but we prefer our seafood and ribs, chicken, and hot links. Either way, the party will continue with or without new bbq sponsors, but it sure would be nice. We had one new one this year in 2011, yayayayyyy."
bridlandjazz  nonprofits  loss  potlatch  wealthdestruction  via:javierarbona  community  canon  nonprofit 
august 2013 by robertogreco
potlatch: riots and credit crunches: when economic objects attack
"What to do? The Actor Network Theorist might smirk and say that we should be putting the HDTVs and trainers in jail, rather than the poor human actors who sought to liberate them. Maybe the mortgage-backed CDOs should themselves be appearing before Congress, explaining what they were up to in the years leading up to 2007. The bankers were merely their servants. Or else we need to rediscover the virtues of a boring, inanimate economy, as the basis for an animated social and cultural world, as Marx intuited. The tedium of the old socialist block - laughable cars, unchanging fashions, steady incomes, pitiful growth - was always at the heart of its apparent legitimacy crisis. But it strikes me that it's precisely this tedium that we now need more of, to escape the tyranny of financial and consumer objects."
anthropology  sociology  markets  marxism  neoliberalism  riots  2011  actornetworktheory  karlmarx  socialism  finance  london  uk  society  capitalism  materialsm  consumerism  consumption  values  objects  possessions  economics  restraint  boringness  ownership  credit  debt  potlatch 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Amazon.com: Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (9780972819640): David Graeber: Books
"Everywhere anarchism is on the upswing as a political philosophy—everywhere, that is, except the academy. Anarchists repeatedly appeal to anthropologists for ideas about how society might be reorganized on a more egalitarian, less alienating basis. Anthropologists, terrified of being accused of romanticism, respond with silence . . . . But what if they didn't?

This pamphlet ponders what that response would be, and explores the implications of linking anthropology to anarchism. Here, David Graeber invites readers to imagine this discipline that currently only exists in the realm of possibility: anarchist anthropology."
anarchism  anthropology  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  favidgraeber  socialscience  egalitarianism  philosophy  books  toread  via:anterobot  activism  politics  situationist  jamesfrazer  pierreclastres  socialorganization  organization  potlatch  indigenous  voluntaryassociation  cooperation  autonomism  exodus  power  counterpower  ethnogenesis  communities  ethnography  radicalism  anarchistanthropology  criticaltheory 
june 2011 by robertogreco
potlatch: An open letter to the hipster
"But why not also take a moment to reflect, catch your breath, and perhaps draw a line under the last decade or so? Surely you can't carry on with the trajectory that you're currently on. What started as knowing tributes to various white subcultures has splintered into knowing tributes to various white elite cultures (Barbour jackets and tweed), unknowing tributes to various white cultures (Urban Outfitters), then finally a satire of its own white culture (London Fields, Hackney). Knowing you've reached a dead-end doesn't alter the fact that you've reached a dead-end, and it's not too late to back out. Tony Blair may have had "no reverse gear", but I'm sure that you guys do, even if it is also a fixed gear."

[That's just a taste, there's much more to it.]
hipsters  economics  2011  uk  politics  behavior  potlatch  ownership  sociology  capitalism  hipsterism 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Autonomia - The MIT Press
"Semiotext(e) is reissuing in book form its legendary magazine issue Autonomia: Post-Political Politics, originally published in New York in 1980. Edited by Sylvère Lotringer & Christian Marazzi with the direct participation of the main leaders and theorists of the Autonomist movement, this volume is the only first-hand document & contemporaneous analysis that exists of the most innovative post-'68 radical movement in the West. The movement itself was broken when Autonomia members were falsely accused of (and prosecuted for) being the intellectual masterminds of the Red Brigades; but even after the end of Autonomia, this book remains a crucial testimony of the way this creative, futuristic, neo-anarchistic, postideological, & nonrepresentative political movement of young workers & intellectuals anticipated issues that are now confronting us in the wake of Empire."
autnomia  autonomism  politics  italy  antonionegri  history  semiotext(e)  books  situationist  post-marxism  activism  anarchism  autonomy  potlatch  philosophy  left  marxism  neo-anarchism  postideology 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Autonomism - Wikipedia
"Autonomism refers to a set of left-wing political and social movements and theories close to the socialist movement. As an identifiable theoretical system it first emerged in Italy in the 1960s from workerist (operaismo) communism. Later, post-Marxist and anarchist tendencies became significant after influence from the Situationists, the failure of Italian far-left movements in the 1970s, and the emergence of a number of important theorists including Antonio Negri, who had contributed to the 1969 founding of Potere Operaio, Mario Tronti, Paolo Virno, etc.

It influenced the German and Dutch Autonomen, the worldwide Social Centre movement, and today is influential in Italy, France, and to a lesser extent the English-speaking countries. Those who describe themselves as autonomists now vary from Marxists to post-structuralists and anarchists."

[related: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomia_Operaia ]
activism  anarchism  autonomy  italy  potlatch  philosophy  politics  left  autonomism  situationist  marxism  post-marxism 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Rusting Buicks and the destruction of wealth :: Grant McCracken
"Which brings us back to British Columbia, and an aboriginal practice called "potlatch" when rival communities would take turns dumping Hudson Bay blankets and other valuables into the Pacific ocean. One of the explanation for this practice is that it is undertaken as a very deliberate act of wealth destruction. ( I don’t know the literature here as well as I should so I am penciling these data in provisionally.)
potlatch  wealth  wealthdestruction  economics  pirates  loggers  rationality  irrationality  grantmccracken 
february 2010 by robertogreco

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