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Makers vs Consumers

TA doesn’t think the sugar on the East Coast is sweet enough (“Domino is no C&H, that’s for sure”) and he hates the citrus from Florida (“inferior” he sniffs.)

I’m beginning to agree on the oranges. I’ve bought clementines, tangerines, and oranges in the last month and THEY HAVE ALL SUCKED. And the have ALL COME FROM FLORIDA. I can’t remember gambling and losing this bad in CA.

Anyway, last night I was in Manhattan for a graduate open house. It was very interesting but sadly, the whole thing made me more confused than clear about my future. The studies are fascinating, the library and collections access are really, really cool and the staff were interesting and engaged.

The problem was with me.

I don’t know if I’m going to be able to go from being a Maker to being an Observer. It’s fine to understand our material culture and place designed objects in historical/social/economic/cultural contexts, but for me, design is not Other. It is not something that I appreciate from the outside, and I don’t know that I will ever be able to. The faculty and the few grad students present to answer questions all study design from the standpoint of people WHO HAVE LITTLE TO NO EXPERIENCE AS PRACTITIONERS.

For them, someone like Rudy Vanderlans at Émigré is an Important Person To Study. For me--even if he is on a totally different design plane than me, superior and more intelligent in many ways—he is my peer. He is a designer, I am a designer.

I got bummed out when they showed some of Stefan Sagmeister’s work. He’s brilliant and I love his graphic wit and smartassitude, but they spoke of him with a kind of reverence that made me uncomfortable. I’ve talked to Sagmeister on the phone before, and he is super nice and down to earth.

I felt the same way in the Product department. TA came with me, and while we were waiting for the elevator, he showed me a museum brochure with a photo of Karim Rashid (all dressed in white, naturellement) blurrily spinning records. We both snickered and I said something snarky like “Oh, yes, Karim: industrial designer and DJ!” The program’s assistant director was standing RIGHT NEXT TO ME.

I know, smooth move.

Afterwards, we went down to NYU where TA gave a little talk about going from 3D modeling programs to making molds and casting parts. Sitting among all these creative students, making messes, fucking around with art and technology, watching TA talk about his process and listening to questions, I really started wondering if maybe what I really need is to become more of a Maker, and not less of one.

4:40 p.m. - 2006-12-01

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