13 January 2009

Depression and Creativity

An emotional debate is raging concerning the effects of an economic depression on design, creativity and innovation. So is it positive or negative? To be fair, it's probably a little bit of both...but it's more fun to consider the extremes.

Michael Cannell in the International Herald Tribune:
The pain of layoffs notwithstanding, the design world could stand to come down a notch or two — and might actually find a new sense of relevance in the process. That was the case during the Great Depression, when an early wave of modernism flourished in the United States, partly because it efficiently addressed the middle-class need for a pared-down life without servants and other Victorian trappings...However dark the economic picture, it will most likely cause designers to shift their attention from consumer products to the more pressing needs of infrastructure, housing, city planning, transit and energy.
And the Design Observer response from Murray Moss:
Design loves a depression? I can assure you that design, along with painting, sculpture, photography, music, dance, fashion, the culinary arts, architecture, and theatre, loves a depression no more than it loves a war, a flood, or a plague. Michael Cannell's article is regressive and mean-spirited, and it demands a response. I deeply resent the tone of comeuppance in Mr. Cannell's article, his condescending, parochial-school-matronly, Calvinistic reproach of the design that flourished during what he refers to as the "economic boom."
I'd have to disagree with Murray Moss. Cannell's article isn't regressive at all, but Pollyanna-esque in its optimism. Moss latches on to Cannell's mention of the pricey extremes that design has reached in recent years and shuts down, ultimately coming across as a whiny, spoiled child who's allowance has been cut. Relevance and affordability shouldn't be looked upon negatively or as a punishment for past decadence, but an opportunity. Survival of the fittest?

Campana Brothers' Corallo chair ($8,910)

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