VC501 – Design Manifesto Intention

Hello there! Throughout this brief I will collate information relating to my manifesto topic. Manifestos are used by design practitioners to enable them to encompass any design rules and political/ethical opinions, often with other generalised outlines – a declaration of any rules, policies, ethos’ or aims . These normally come from individual practitioners, design houses or politically motivated groups.
My chosen manifesto research topic is consumerism as it’s relivent to design today. I will use this research to help me form an opinion on consumerism and help me answer any questions I have. This will enable me to create an in-depth manifesto of my own personal opinion, aswell as a refined five point plan. I will then create an A1 poster, of which the design will reflect typographic elements/visual metaphors and imagery portrayed in my manifesto.

The Need For Anti-Consumerist Graphic Design

Design should be a creative process, not a scientific one.

I believe consumerism is limiting our creativity as graphic designers, particularly as consumerism has become more of science that a creative process. Society as a whole has become addicted to consumption and the want of practical goods, for one reason or another (status symbols, symbols of success and/or wealth). Consumers truly believe the products they are buying are making their lives better, albeit limited, but even briefly.

Graphic Designers have a huge influence on consumerism in society as a whole. We are the people who are designing the products themselves, or creating an advertising campaign for it. Advertising plays a huge role in human life, it bestows informative values and assumptions, and is ultimately lecturing the viewer of the advert on why that company’s product is superior to anothers, or why they need to purchase the product, holidays, TV etc.

Adverts are powerful, they give the viewer a feeling of happiness and security, and a sense that commodities are the root of happiness. Consumers believe their quality of life is improved. Another aspect of advertising design and/or product design is social competition. Friends and family don’t want inferior products, they will always want to compete with each other to have the most up to date, the fastest, the better product.

Advertising attempts to equate the social with the material by utilizing images and slogans to link commodities with the real life source of human happiness, such as meaningful relationship. This is mostly why creativity in design is being killed off, the risky design, and the much more inventive design campaigns will always lose to a campaign which has a deeply rooted scientific formula behind it, whether it be mirroring brand values to the customer, or simply a very cunning way of telling them to buy the product in order to make them more happy, or because they need it (whether they do or don’t!).

Companies don’t care about social changes or poliltics, to them our need as a society to heavily consume and spend, means massive profit margins. People are fearful of missing out when it comes to the must have products, trends or innovations, while the innovative products are mostly welcomed for the technological aspect, the consumerism that comes with it, isn’t.

If design was to change, and an advertising campaign showed a product simply for what it did/is, company sales would obviously fall. But should they care? Of course they should, the people who run the companies aren’t exempt from having a responsibility for society and the world as a whole. All of this consumption is killing the world’s fuel reserves, and material reserves. It has become such a problem that some of the people consumerism was meant to effect, have now become anti-consumerists themselves.

What’s wrong with having a simple straightforward design approach, I personally believe the companies and designers are becoming too weighed down by all the social scientific aspects. Who’s to say profits wouldn’t improve, anti-consumerists and people who are typically sick of being brainwashed by the big corporations would welcome it.

My manifesto will outline the principles of the need for a different creative approach to consumerism, why it is the role of the graphic designer to change the mindset of consumers (ultimately to break from addictive consumerism – which is killing the planet), and for anti-consumerist graphic design and the intentions of a less scientific approach.


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