David Stairs Winter Park, FL. train station I’m having this printed on a t-shirt in 100 pt. demi-bold letters: I survived Universal Studios Over the Christmas holidays I was invited to Florida by an old friend I hadn’t seen since 2005. Never mind that I have purposely avoided the “Sunshine State” my whole life. Each [...]
David Stairs Cutting Corners One of the most gratifying experiences is having one’s observations corroborated, especially when they are about another culture. Not one, but two Indian acquaintances responded to my last Indian post, Why India Does Not Need Me, with the same remark: it reminded them of a famous speech by Ivan Illich, “To [...]
David Stairs This essay was originally published in Speak Up October 26, 2004. It seems just as timely as ever. Branding. From the pages of Print and Communication Arts to the sessions at the AIGA biennial conference, this is what can only be called a hot button issue for graphic designers. The AIGA even sponsors [...]
David Stairs When it comes to saving the world, I’m a reformed do-gooder. Yet, not a day goes by that I am not reminded of how many people are working mightily to save the world. First and foremost, there are the entrepreneurs, those who float websites and publish magazines and manage non-profits. These have been [...]
Ed. note. This piece recently appeared as 21st Century Ethics for Graphic Designers in Sophie Krier’s anthology I Don’t Know Where I’m Going But I Want To Be There published in December 2010 by BIS David Stairs What does it mean to be a citizen designer anyway? Years ago Rick Poyner drew attention to it [...]
David Stairs I never thought I’d get so old that I’d begin to sound like Andy Rooney. What is he, about 95? But I realize now that the infernal buzzing of human electronic communications media has me longing for the quietude Obi-Wan enjoyed in his adobe hut on Tatooine.
David Stairs In February of this year my energetic friend Wes Janz mounted the exhibition small architecture/BIGLANDSCAPES at the Swope Museum in Terra Haute. The show was an elaborate combination of image, text, and installation, and drew on Wes’s considerable acquaintance with the world of “small but effective” architectural practitioners, including students, academics, and professionals. [...]
David Stairs Either we live in the most enlightened era of recorded human history, or the most cynical. I don’t think this statement is contradictory. Last year when I wrote Arguing With Success I was subsequently taken to task for criticising the very motives among designers I’d been calling for for years. One respondent said, [...]
Solving First World problems with Third World solutions.
David Stairs You know the popular saying, “No pain, no gain”? It’s always kind of bugged me. I mean, it just doesn’t stand up to common sense. There’s no animal in the universe that likes pain. Most go out of their way to avoid it. But human institutions are contrary. They seem to be grounded [...]
If you’re not entirely comfortable following the assurances of “the world’s leading design firm” or the blandishments of “the association for design” regarding sustainability, there may be hope for you yet.
David Stairs “The subordinate place of history, theory, and criticism in design education is concomitant with the difficulty most designers have in envisioning forms of practice other than those already given by the culture.” –Victor Margolin Turf Wars When Victor Margolin published those words in 2002 in his Politics of the Artificial I chastised him [...]
David Stairs Ball State Visual Communications student Kat Townsend documenting a hand-painted sign on a condemned house in Flint, Michigan. Photo by Laura Huffman. Winning and losing: the dichotomy is endemic to the American way of life. From Vegas to American Idol, from athletic wagers to Dancing With the Stars, we take our entertainment with [...]
Arvind Lodaya’s social design proposal for the new century
In a nation where cookie-cutter McMansions have become common from coast to coast…