design futures

I actually quit you Adobe

That's right. Actually quit. I summed up the balls of the design ages and nailed my thesis to the cathedral door and all of that. I even went so far as to uninstall all of it. Well on one machine at any rate. Adobe, I’ve quit you. I'm still scared though. And this is sad. I'm aware of that.

The fact of the matter is that in my old age I've taken to thinking about design in all sorts of high falutin' ways that didn't much matter before. When you're young(er), going to obviously live forever, drunk and partying a lot and full of optimism with a horizon of mainly imagined opportunity, you don't think about the politics of how you do things. However, recently I have.

It started with first deciding to not have any of my kids on Facebook because I didn't like the fact that a massive Internet company owns the images. Then it was more or less quitting Facebook altogether. Then I realised after using Sketch for a while and having to open Illustrator that not only are Adobe's interfaces anyeurism-inducing monuments to bloat and legacy software, but that one company had not just a global monopoly but an absolute chokehold on using a computer to create images. This flat out drove me old man, armchair yelling at the TV mad. So I quit. Going indie and all that. And we'll see how far I get, but its sadly exciting.

It’s also been a semi contrived exercise in creating constraints for my work. If I can't do it in Sketch, well, I guess I just won't do it - and if I can't find an example of it in Motion instead of After Effects, well, then I'll just have to actually work a little bit harder and be a proper designer about things. And that’s that.

What I do is not very popular

I believe in using design to solve problems. Real problems, not imaginary ones that might be in some fantistical future. You know, the future that looks like a cross between a shit “Logan’s Run” and Muji. But ones today that are real and are always a product of what happened before. So I can't sell what I do very easily or very well. It won't be in Wired or on TED because there is no bio this or nano that and not a lot of hand waving and oohing and aahing from crowds of powerful people. Instead I work with stuff nobody cares about, or wishes didn't exist, like 800,000 dead Rwandans, old people who nobody ever taught how to use a mobile phone and now doing my bit to try and fix 0.023% of the British government.

The Realness in Design

I've somehow managed to not see Bladerunner until a little bit ago. The thing that I liked most about it was that it presented not a pretty bland, middle class vision of the future. It was autocratic, messy, big and Chinese. Yes there were robots, but people didn't live with them. They hated them and treated them like a hated minority, that is they wanted to wipe them out. It was much more of realistic portrayal of human nature not changing all that much a number of years from now.

Where is the single mom of two in design? How is it I met the first black interaction designer of my life a only a year ago? Where are the slums, the sitting in front of the TV, the drunk out of your mind because you can't bear to go home to your wife?

What we typically are peddled by designers as the future is usually pretty bland and pretty middle class. It's pretty funny how indicative of who is "inventing" this future. Ostensibly, this is by bland, thoroughly middle class designers. Can't say that I don't fit into this category, because I'm also a bland, thoroughly middle class designer, but being a guy who's more concerned with doing stuff today instead of worrying about something that will never come, I have to say this is probably one of the reasons for my dislike of all this "futurism" hoo-haw.