When was the last time you encountered any culture that you can say was really dangerous, that actually challenged anything?” so questions the Anti-Design Manifesto launched by the graphic designer Neville Brody. The former art director of The Face and Arena magazines has now taken over as head of the Royal College of Art’s Visual Communications department, where he plans to challenge the norm. While graphic design has become heavily associated with commercial art, Brody insists it’s a discipline that was born out of social engagement and the desire to give form to ideas and feelings, and that this role is needed more than ever in the digital age.
I am not well placed to agree or disagree with Brody’s assessment, but he suggested that for the last 20-30 years (since Thatcher,) the dominant ideology of our culture has been success.
All other ideas were swept away before the desire for success.
Tools to aid success became the most popular subject of study in our universities.
A successful life within this world view means wealth, choice, holidays, and personal happiness. We bought the idea that these things were available- almost by right- to all of us.
Success has to be quantifiable- and this usually means money. Art is not the only thing that we have monetised.
But there is a change in the air. The fluctuations in the economy increasingly dictate the kind of success we attain and for many of us, what we have strived for is simply not attainable nor sustainable.
There is a hunger for deeper, more spiritual ways of life.
And if people like Brody are right, then this might become a time of protest and challenge of the old dominant success-driven culture, and a time of new ideas…