L a S c u o l a O p e n S o u r c e
S O S
Artist, Designer, Teacher / Gruppo T
He is quite an unusual character on the design scene: starting from 1960s he developed his activity in several fields, all connected by his interest towards a style of communication and experimentation that finds its main dimension in temporality, using the most advanced technologies and standing for an ethical and political approach to design. As an artist, he was amongst the founders of the Kinetic and Programmed Art (an art that was metamorphic, immersive and interactive already in the Sixties). As a designer, he developed large coordinated branding and exhibition design projects, and some pioneering examples of multimedia, hypermedia and interaction design. As a teacher, after having been the first professor lecturing on communication project - related subjects in the Italian University, he has been doing that for over 30 years. As a criticist, historian and scholar of communication project discipline, he has published books and contributed to several publications, in Italy and abroad. He the responsible of the introduction in the design discourse of notions as “monogram”, “communication artifact”, “prothetic theory of objects”, “hard and soft coordinate image”, “electronic anaphore”, “cities interface” and “care of transitions”. He works on a project around reviewing the communication design discipline in terms of transition from the tactical artifact project discipline to the strategic discipline of the “theory of staging”, then “multi-modal staging”.
“Basic design is the heart of the heart of our design discipline, it really is the central centre of our discipline. If you are asked “what does a designer do?” you can confidently answer: “he attributes a form, a configuration, to the objects in the world that surrounds us”.
What we get paid for, is the quality we attribute to such form.
An engineer, when put in front of a problem - a car, for example - thinks about the car as about a tool to commute. A designer adds something else. And most of all - I’m not talking about stylists or formalists - he has to put a lot of attention into the quality that such objects’ forms assume.
Let’s have a quick look to the formal quality of the objects that surround us: it is very, very low. Our essential task is that of increasing such quality.
Let’s think of a website: there are beautiful and ugly websites; there are websites with a interactive and sophisticated quality, where you feel comfortable: well, that’s our competence and basic design teaches to design well, qualitatively well”.
The students will be immersed in a situational learning context through the dialogical methodology, the workshop praxis, exercises and theoretical lecturing, alternated across the learning path.
“Based on my experience, students who learn basic design become completely different from those who don’t. In the Polytechnic University of Milan we had this situation: there were some sections in which basic design was a curricular subject and sections where this was not happening, as we couldn’t afford it. Well, there was a big difference: the students who went through Basic Design, after attending the course, had gained something absolutely unbeatable which I’d define as “formal confidence”.
Let me tell you an anecdote - at my age, anecdotes are everywhere. It is about the entrance of Basic Design in universities: I was a professor and was part of the PhD in Design team; a PhD candidate joined, happily suggesting to focus his studies on basic design. Then, something funny happened: I went to a meeting with all the other super-professors and presented them with this idea, explaining that working on a research project around basic design could have been very interesting. In that moment, I looked at my colleagues and saw that they all had that face that students usually have when being questioned, their eyes gazing here and there, almost hiding… I was left shocked, as it meant they had no clue what I was talking about. They obviously said yes, as - not knowing anything about it - they couldn’t argue against it. At the end of the meeting, one of these professors, a very fun and straight-forward guys, took me to the side and asked me, in Milanese dialect “but what’s this basic design about?”. I then spent over twenty minutes telling him that Basic Design starts with Bauhaus, then there’s Klee and Kandinsky and then Maldonado and so on. At the end of this tiny lecture, with truly shining eyes, he exclaimed: “Ah! I got it! That’s my style!”. Well, if I really, really had to tell what the exact opposite of basic design is, my answer would be: personal style.
This is to tell you how the current academic situation is in terms of studies and knowledge of this absolutely core component of design, which is Basic Design”.