I hate this article February 9, 2011Posted by Jon Pittman in Uncategorized.
This week, Blake Gopnik published an article in Newsweek titled “The Dirty Secret of Apple’s Design”
I hate this article. Why? It conflates art and design and reinforces the flawed – but popular — notion that design is all about form, fashion, and trendiness. Mr. Gopnik’s analysis of Apple design claims that it is stuck in the modernist past and Apple products exhibit “retro chic”. He fails to make a distinction between art – which is about self expression – and design – which is about addressing human needs. Good design is multidimensional. It addresses a balance of form, function, and performance. Mr. Gopnik evaluates Apple design on a single dimension – form. What’s worse, he values form almost exclusively on novelty, trendiness, and decoration. He admits that Apple design – as most modernist design – has a classical appeal, but seems to devalue that appeal.
Blake Gopnik is an art critic, with a doctorate in art history, and his article appeared in the culture section of Newsweek (Feb 7, 2011). His analysis is typical of such venues – which view design as a form of art, rather than a driver of innovation. Unfortunately Mr. Gopnik’s analysis is all too common, and reinforces the popular view of design as frivolous and producing only transitory value. Mr. Gopnik does us all a disservice by trivializing the importance of design by claiming design is all about fashion.
Mr. Gopnik clearly admits that he loves to use Apple products, but fails to make the connection between an easy-to-use product and good design. One redeeming aspect of Mr. Gopnik’s article is in his final description of the iPad as “an ultimate example of design that has disappeared.” His discussion provides a glimmer of hope that Mr. Gopnik may be moving beyond the self-referential and narrow view of the design intelligentsia of” design as art” to the more nuanced and useful view of design as a competitive strategy.