Why Designs?

First of all, the Russnino Website is finally up and running completely. We’ve filled out the pages’ sections, so check them out right now and see if there are any services you’d like to avail of.

Now, a question to ponder: why design? Why prettify something whose substance is still more important? For those who claim that content is king, the question may ring loud: what is the point of design?

There is a history explaining how the art of design came about with the dawn of industrialization and capitalism. When products began to be mass produced, the need to sell them was born – the field of marketing, you could say. With this came design, and not only design in terms of two-dimensional artworks containing words and decor that conveyed a message, but that of products as well: containers, packaging, and the products themselves (quilts, cups, chairs, etc., just to name a few). Of course, in order to sell something or for a person to purchase a product, it has to look good, doesn’t it?

This partly explains what design is. Design is the meshing of form and function. It is the art of presenting information in a creative way, and also in a way that guides viewers to the point it wants to make. It is the art of creating products with a body that immediately (in most cases) informs viewers what it is for, and how it is used.

Take a restaurant menu, for example. Menus incorporate design in that it presents its information – the type of food (appetizers, main course, desserts, and drinks) and its corresponding price – in a way that allows its hungry customers to easily find what they are looking for, whether or not the restaurant has the dish, or even whether or not it – assuming it is available – falls within their budget. Without great design, it would be difficult for customers to find what they are looking for, and in worse cases it may force the really hungry ones out of the restaurant and in search of one where there are reader-friendly menus. In this case, then, reader-friendly menus refer to those with great design.

The point of design, first and foremost, is to get attention. But this is only because without claiming attention, those it is intended for will not get to its most important element: its content; its message. To those pondering then the purpose of design when content is king, well, without design the king will be missed – overlooked. Perhaps ignored, even. Now that we’re using this analogy, let’s put it another way: without his robes, his throne, and the posse of guards and advisers that trail him wherever he goes, the king could easily be mistaken for a commoner. Or worse, a pauper. Hence the need for great design. After all, if one’s content is as king as it is presumed to be, why not roll out the best red carpet and the most luxurious robes and present it the way it deserves? Such is the purpose of design.

What is great design?

To follow the topic on design of the previous post, here’s something from Paper magazine’s April 2010 issue that we’d like to share with you guys. An excerpt from The Style of Now, the title of the essay by Kim Hastreiter in her column Note of Kim, it’s something that should come in handy to us designers as we go about our work, whether as a form of reminder or inspiration. In the essay, Hastreiter talks about industrial designer Dieter Rams (the designer of the Braun calculator and the square-shaped alarm clock, to name a few)’s idea of design. She quotes Rams, “Good design avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashion design, it lasts many years—even in today’s throwaway society.”

Hastreiter expounds more on the topic of course; to read what she has to say, get a copy of Paper’s April 2010 issue, or check out their website to see if they have it online. But for now, the part we want to share, which is actually more of the sidebar they featured than an excerpt of the essay itself:

Dieter Rams’s Ten Principles of Design
(Russnino’s note: these refer mainly to product design, bearing in mind the Rams is an industrial designer. Nonetheless, it gives us insight as to what graphic designers too can do to put that iconic stamp on their work.)

1. Good design is innovative: The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.

2. Good design makes a product useful: A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.

3. Good design is aesthetic: The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products we use every day affect our person and our well-being. But only well executed objects can be beautiful.

4. Good design makes a product understandable: It clarifies a product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it’s self-explanatory.

5. Good design is unobstrusive: Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.

6. Good design is honest: It does not make a product more innovative, powerful, or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.

7. Good design is long lasting: It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years—even in today’s throwaway society.

8. Good design is thorough, down to the last detail: Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect toward the consumer.

9. Good design is environmentally friendly: Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.

10. Good design is as little design as possible: Less, but better—because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Taken from Paper magazine, April 2010 issue, Note From Kim column by Kim Hastreiter, pp. 78-79

Arts

Like any other country in the world, the Filipino way of life and the things surrounding them are in one way or another, shaped by art. And with the existence of art like music and paintings in the Philippines, the door to yet another world has been opened to allow visitors to enjoy a truly diversified experience of the country.

Music

Music

It wasn’t until recently that traditional Philippine music began picking up in popularity after being exclusively restricted to ethnic minorities for quite some time. With Western influence in their music, it is definitely not surprising to find that many Filipino bands all over Southeast Asia is well known for their ability to perform music from the west. Nonetheless, more and more local musicians are embarking on the journey of rediscovering their cultural heritage. With the return of the use of traditional instruments such as bamboo flutes, wooden drums and gongs, the Filipinos are slowly bringing old melodies back to life. Apart from that, Philippine folk songs in the original Tagalog have also made a comeback after Freddie Aguilar, the popular social critic sang Bayan Ko (My Country). This song eventually became an anthem of Marcos’ rivals during the revolution of 1986.

Paintings

Painting

Visitors to the Philippines will be awed by the works of the country’s talented individuals in the art of painting. The country’s two most famous painters of the 19th century are Juan Luna and Felix Hidalgo. The masterpiece ‘Spolarium’, which won a gold medal at the 1884 Madrid Exposition, is perhaps one of Luna’s best work. The mid-20th century gave way to other internationally acclaimed artists like Vicente Dizon, Fernando Amorsolo and Vicente Manansala. Those interested in contemporary art should give the Ateneo Art Gallery a visit. This art gallery showcases the permanent collection of selective contemporary works by contemporary Filipino artists and is located at Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City. The Metropolitan Museum of the Philippines at Central Bank Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Manila is a must see for those with great interest in classical and contemporary paintings and prints from America and Europe. Besides the exhibitions, visitors will also have the chance to see slide shows and films almost daily at this art gallery.