• Mc_2
Graphic Design

Who’s the Duchamp of design?

Guest posted by Michael Crowe,

This week we welcome something of an It’s Nice That favourite, Michael Crowe. Michael was part of the first evening of talks back in April this year and then wrote the fantastic The Shameful Alternative to Stamp Collecting for our second issue of the publication. This week he instigates the investigation into “Who’s the Duchamp of Design?”.

My first idea for frenzied discussion here was: Which “It’s Nice That” gent is better looking, Alex or Will? Will or Alex? Thrilled with my question, I demanded they posted photos of themselves without make up and let the public have a little beauty brawl. But, as neither would agree to be seen without a touch of foundation, a snifter of mascara, some rouge, a dab of lip gloss, copious eyeliner and an ocean of concealer I have been forced to think up some other tripe, which is this:

Who is the Duchamp of design? One might say Cage is the Marcel of music, but what about design? If the answer is insultingly obvious to you, then please play around with the question a bit more: Who is the Jack Vettriano of design? Or who is the Michael Flatley of dance? Etc. Etc. Of course suggesting that Design should have a Duchamp might be wholly wrong, and if the discussion focuses on the logical nonsense of the question I think that would still be interesting.

I would like everybody who joins in with this discussion to bear in mind that this must all eventually end in complete and utter agreement. There are to be no loose ends. If at any stage the discussion feels like it is drifting then please do feel free to post a link to the best (classy) free fonts. (Would seriously be much appreciated.)

Also: The summary by Will or Alex must, and on this point I absolutely insist, must be written this time in Ottava rima, a rhyming scheme using a stanza of eight lines with an alternating a-b rhyming scheme for the first six lines followed by a closing couplet. First used by Boccaccio, it was developed for heroic epics but has also been used for mock-heroic poetry. (source: Wikipedia)

Michael Crowe is a writer and an artist. His writing, mostly short fiction, combines deadpan wit with absurd sentimentality. In recent stories he noticed your bank statement slowly appearing as the sunrise, combined all Chinatowns to make a second actual China and suggested that Jupiter rotates in the opposite direction every time you say nah. He’s currently working on Mysterious Letters Part 2 with Lenka Clayton. figcrumbs.blogspot.com

Comments

12942304153401344 MathewWilson on Mon Nov 2nd 2009

By 'Duchamp' and then mentioning Vettriano and Flatley, do you mean who is popular to the masses yet disliked by the industry - or are you a fan of all three? Either way, in design right now it would have to be Starck. Love him or loath him, he is the most recognisable face and accent on the scene.

12942304163996968 nikondriver on Mon Nov 2nd 2009

Considering Duchamp was such an iconoclast. I think Wolfgang Weingart would be a good candidate.

12942304171101549 MathewWilson on Mon Nov 2nd 2009

If we're being serious then, Stefan Sagmeister.

12942304178351283 figcrumbs on Mon Nov 2nd 2009

Hi Mathew, I mention Vettriano as the antithesis of Duchamp. I admire Duchamp as much as I find Flatley to be a hilarious, egocentric character (I recommend his autobiography, Lord of the Dance).

12942304185492315 gerrrsh on Mon Nov 2nd 2009

If there is a Duchamp of design I'd say James Victore.

He subverts images similar to Duchamp (Columbus Day poster with the Native American), he has used popular imagery, his work is heavily conceptual much in the Duchamp's was, and full of parodies.

Not to mention his use of strange medium with his plates, cars, and surfboards.

12942304195804205 farleyideas on Tue Nov 3rd 2009

What about David Carson? I thing you would have to think about which Duchamp really.

12942304203536763 harrietplatts on Tue Nov 3rd 2009

Duchamp's real significance lies in the way in which he brought into question the very definition of art with his ready-mades. His art contained no ostentation, was not intended to be visual and left the art establishment reeling. I therefore agree with Mathew Wilson that the only possible contender for the Duchamp of design is the design minimalist par excellence Philippe Starck.

He has challenged the very definition of design, applying his principles to everything from toothbrushes to juicers to windmills. Like Duchamp he doesn't specialise in the creation of provocative and expensive single pieces like other designers. Instead, his product designs are of usable household items which Starck himself helps to market for mass production. In particular, his recent anti-fashion cashmere designs for Ballantyne, deliberately intended to be un-photogenic, were obviously conceived in the light of Duchamp’s Dadaism or anti-art.

It seems that Starck himself even identified himself with Duchamp. Significantly when he designed the men's wash room for the Peninsula hotel in Hong Kong he deliberately chose not to include urinals of the Duchamp and traditional type, instead replacing them with a floor to ceiling glass wall looking out onto the city for users to urinate against. If that isn't a tongue in cheek nod to Duchamp then I don't know what is.

12942304210792856 letsget_awesome on Thu Nov 5th 2009

I am not sure that there is/can/will be a Duchamp of Design. That would require a single person to reject design completely, and change the very nature of it forever. I suppose if we were to simply look at the surface/aesthetic of Duchamp and draw parallels between a designers practice and that, we could, but I don't think that can be justified.

1294230422028015 mvmnt09 on Thu Nov 5th 2009

personally.. i think its me.. hehehaha.. common guys.. why so serious ?

Posted by Michael Crowe

Most Recent: Graphic Design View Archive

  1. List-ashley-stephenson-new-york-times-its-nice-tha

    Designer Ashley Stephenson seems to be a shy chap, perhaps explaining why he prefers to go by his creative pseudonym G/tr, and why it took a friend of his to get in touch singing his praises. We’re not sure why, as Ashley’s certainly talented: this project was created while interning at the New York Times, and looks to show the publication’s prestigious heritage while also celebrating its move into the digital era. For each of the images, Ashley has imagined what the stars of yesteryear might get up to if they were as preoccupied as we are today with the likes of Snapchat, Vine, Instagram, Periscope, Twitter, Facebook, What’s App, Club Penguin, Habbo Hotel…you get the picture.

  2. Studio_storz_itsnicethat_list

    Berlin-based Studio Storz has a portfolio chock-full of visual identities, editorial design and book design that’s varied in style. What differentiates Studio Storz from other design practices is its collaborative approach to design. As part of Spector Bureau, a collection of designers, artists and publishers, it actively works with other professionals in the field. It sees the role of designers as ever expanding and one that can manifest itself as researcher, engineer, craftsman and communicator; and the studio’s relationship with the Heidelberger Kunstverein has been ongoing since 2012.

  3. Alexandre-pietra-for-noise-festival-its-nice-that-list

    A good identity isn’t necessarily one with a mega logo – though it doesn’t hurt – but one that looks great and is instantly recognisable across any touchpoint, be it a coffee cup or huge stretch of hoardings. When we saw this festival identity looking bloody brilliant on a balloon, we knew it passed the test. This simple blue and white look for French festival For Noise was created by Swiss designer Alexandre Pietra, and aims to convey the festival’s new, less rock-orientated approach. “The concept of this 2015 edition is to let the music speak for itself,” says Alexandre.

  4. Byop_int_list

    Earlier this month, the Serpentine Pavilion opened to the public. The beguiling, multicoloured woven structure designed by Spanish architects SegnasCalgo sits in Hyde Park like a more grown-up version of a fort you might have built when you were a child. Over the last decade and a half the annual architecture commission has become a much-anticipated beacon of design, and to celebrate 15 years of the Summer Pavilion, the Serpentine Galleries have teamed up with Kidesign, Marina Willer and the team at Pentagram to launch a digital platform and national campaign to foster the aspiring young architects of tomorrow.

  5. Lust_typedynamic_itsnicethat_list

    LUST not only has a great name, but is a studio covering a huge range of disciplines in an extraordinary way. Based in The Hague, Netherlands, it’s this project the studio did last year at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam that demonstrates the studio’s unique and varied approach. An interactive installation for the exhibition Type/Dynamics, the show aimed to comment on the work of experimental graphic designer Jurriaan Schrofer.

  6. Song-haein-itsnicethat-list

    I’m just going to come right out and admit that there’s an inherent injustice in trying to explain how beautiful a printed book is through digital images. This is especially true in the case of Haein Song, whose painstakingly bound publications go one step beyond plain old riso-printing and saddle-stitching.

  7. List-its-nice-that-mtv_premium_collage_300dpi_iam

    MTV is launching a new “louder, shorter and hyper-visal” look and feel, incorporating user-generated content for the first time. The positioning has been reworded to “I am my MTV” from its former slogan “I want my MTV,” aiming to celebrate its audience and “bring new video art to audiences worldwide,” according to the brand. MTV says that the new design work was created in house, and it seems very much in the vein of the bright, brash and rather brilliant work of its senior vice president of visual storytelling and deputy editorial director (snappy!) Richard Turley.

  8. Penguin_design_awards_2015_list

    Today Penguin has announced the winning covers for its 2015 Penguin Random House Design Awards. The awards are an opportunity for art and design students to get involved with design for publishing. Entrants are given a detailed brief from the publishing house and are invited to submit designs in one of three categories. This year Scott Kooken’s Freakonomics takes the Adult Non-Fiction category, Kate Gamet wins Adult Fiction with Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, and Lucie Williams’ Carrie’s War wins the Children’s category.

  9. List-eric-hu-talk-magazine-its-nice-that-

    We’re longtime, long-distance admirers of the work of Eric Hu, so the news that he’s recently launched a new magazine, Talk, is pretty damn exciting. And from what we’ve seen of the spreads, young Eric’s not disappointed us. The mag is the product of a collaboration with art director and writer Harry Gassel, former art director at The Fader, and is described as “a style-driven magazine on design focused on emerging culture.” And style-driven it damn well is: we’re digging the cover typeface, which seems to be formed of gloomy balloons, while the spreads show some innovative approaches to layout and image size. The first issue features the likes of David Brandon Geeting, Maxime Harvey, Simon Whybray and Raf Rennie, and we’re keen to see how Talk’s dialogue continues in future issues.

  10. Bond_web_moominfont_a_small_optimized-1

    Tove Jansson was a one-woman phenomenon. Last year Finland celebrated the centenary of the much-loved Moomin creator and children’s uberauthor and illustrator, and you might remember we spoke to C-G Hagström for the Autumn issue of Printed Pages about photographing her throughout her life.

  11. Zoo_festival_de_l%e2%80%99histoire_de_l%e2%80%99art_itsnicethat_list

    Paris-based studio Zoo has been featured on the site before for their zesty posters for a music event, and this time they’re back with a beautiful identity for the Festival de l’Histoire de l’Art 2015. Created as part of a proposal for a competition held by the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the theme was “Matière de l’œuvre (the matter of the work of art).”

  12. Kino_xenix_it's_nice_that_list

    We all got quite excited about this book of film posters from Kino Xenix, the underground cinema that has become something of a cultural institution in Zurich. Starting as a nomadic student film club back in 1981 with little more than a super 8 film projector, it’s been upheld as a bastion of Zurich’s youth culture since setting up shop in a former school barracks several years later.

  13. Muokkaa_yorokobu_itsnicethat_list

    Showing a bit of love for the humble number is Muokkaa Studio AKA Alex López Becerro, with his series of Memphis-inspired numbers for Spanish magazine Yorokobu and their annual calendar. A fabulous mix of primary shades and pastel hues, these creations are all 3D renders but start as sketches on paper. “Once I have an idea that I think will work, I start working on the computer. For this project I designed shapes, modules and patterns to form the letters – because they have several elements in common, they form a font family of numbers,” Alex explains.