After reviewing this segment of TED Talks, it makes me appreciate the moments that I thought were insignificant, and that I really need to do more serious design instead of only solemn design. I need to grasp the fact that great work (design ideas) does not only come from being organized but can also spring from the chaotic moments. It can come when least expected or as a result of a trying and tough time in your life – not only when you sit down with a pen and pad or in front of a computer.
Solemn design is what they would call socially correct work. It’s the type of design that right minded designers and clients strive to achieve. It’s the type of design that some would even go as far as saying its perfection. This work almost always follows all the design protocols. It is not something that is farfetched. Instead, it walks the straight and narrow and tows the line. I think this type of design results in things that have been done before and doesn’t leave much room for originality. In comparison, serious design is on the other end of the spectrum. It is the type of work that is achieved spontaneously, intuitively and accidentally. It is filled with imperfections and screams unconventionality. This type of work is achieved through parts of human behavior that makes absolutely no sense.
It is this serious design that made Paula Sher well known. When she was given jobs that was outside her forte, she didn’t turn them down but accepted them and had fun with it. A prime example would be her work for Public Theater. She despised the Helvetica font and couldn’t stand the bland layout of the theater posters and all related media so she did a serious face lift. Because of her love for typography, she found and used fonts in unconventional ways on paper. So this is where she got to have fun, go all out and get some serious play. However, she did point out that once something becomes popular it is the kiss of death because suddenly, all the fun you were having, now becomes a mundane task; the work has now turned conventional – it is being used everywhere.
It wasn’t long after that Paula got job with Citibank. The initial process of designing the logo was fun but winding down to the finalization and implementation of the logo became very stressful. Stressful to the point where she almost got depressed. While waddling in her depression, Paula started making maps of places, countries, political events etc as a way to get back to her serious design mode and just release and be herself again. Not before long Paula’s map designs became popular and all of a sudden she was back to doing solemn work again.
Based on Paula’s narratives, there are several things to point out. Greatness can also come from serious design and it is ok to be spontaneous and unconventional sometimes. I need to learn how to let go more and stop thinking of all the design protocols. By being me, I allow myself to create something of greatness all while having fun doing it. Furthermore, I will encounter hard times but I need to remember that greatness can also stem from these hard times so don’t give up! Serious design will most likely turn into solemn design but when it does, use it as a motivator to come up with something different and new.