First Things First

This lecture was about the use of design within our society. We looked at concepts like culture jamming and the First Things First Manifesto. Design is very influential and an agent of social change. As observed in history we can see the many ways design has influenced time. An example of this is propaganda. Many posters were created during WWI & WWII to communicate the views of the government to the public. Many included strong imagery to persuade individuals to buy war bonds or to fight. However does this mean design promoted the war? Did this propaganda influence the public wrongly? I believe that these visuals had great power and were very emotive, they are amazing to look at and to see the strong messages conveyed; however I feel they are ‘unethical’. Considering the time people were in many things may have been stressful and these propaganda posters may have been to manipulative?

We also looked at the idea of culture jamming. This is the action of ‘uncooling’ brands and deviating from the consumerist society we are in by parodying adverts. Individuals are encouraged to break from these set consumer systems. I find this approach very direct and hands on. You can take action into your own hands and act. There are many examples of this in the creative world. For example Barbara Kruger takes images out of their original context and manipulates their meanings. Her works tackle issues such as consumerism. They intend to make the viewer question consumerism and their role in society. The colours she uses are very minimal and bold; similar to propaganda her works have bold emotive imagery. It’s almost like anti-consumerist propaganda.

Finally we discussed the First Things First Manifesto, established by Ken Garland (1964). This manifesto states that designers should use their talents for more meaningful work that benefits society, rather than for just commercial purposes. “With so much competition, the agencies argue, clients must spend more than ever to make sure their pitch screeches so loud it can be heard over all the others” Klien (No Logo) states. The competition within advertising is high, so designers are in more demand, as this field proves to be lucrative for some it can explain why there isn’t much put into social design. It isn’t as profitable. I agree and disagree with this manifesto. I do believe that we should give more attention to design that benefits society, however I think a balance needs to be found, one where society is helped.

Klein, N. (2001) No logo: no space, no choice, no jobs. London: Harper Perennial

Lasn, K. (2001) Culture jam: how to reverse Americanś suicidal consumer binge – and why we must. New York: HarperCollins

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