50 Designers Answer the Question: Do We Suck?


If you’ve already stopped being mad at Bruce Nussbaum let us reignite the fiery flames of fury by reminding you of his “designers are the enemy of design” speech (better known now as the Suck Manifesto, which was followed by the Spell Check Manifesto).

Okay, now calm down and listen. Editor GK VanPatter of NextD Journal has released a special issue called “Beautiful Diversion” wherein 50 designers have responded to the suckage. You can download the 60-page document, or watch as Nussbaum posts them one-by-one (it seems) on his site, which might get quite tedious, especially in another week when you’ve forgotten this completely. So, we pulled highlights for you. (Update: VanPatter has asked Nussbaum to stop posting and responding to his content, although we can’t really understand why. But we also can’t understand why anyone would make a 60-page PDF instead of making all the content readily linkable on a website. Or why anyone except us would be crazy enough to read the whole thing. But we digress.):

Tony Fry: Nussbaum reminds me of one of my grandmother’s favourite sayings–’empty vessels make the most noise.’ The guy sure is a dry pea in a tin can.

Tim Brown: While I applaud his personal efforts to champion Design Thinking perhaps the opening line for his next talk can be “design journalism sucks.”

John Thackara: Most of us suspect something unpleasant is about to happen, but we are confused over what to do about it. So–surprise surprise–we go into denial. But beating up on designers–or blubbing on a stage in Monterrey–is not going to move things forward one inch. So what to do? It’s simple: get out there and help the people who are already active.

Jaime Barrett: Even though part of me wants to climb through my wireless connection and strangle Nussbaum, I can see his point.

Gunnar Swanson: He may have something important to tell us. Maybe he should hire a writer so we can figure out just what it is.

Chris Arnold: Our culture on the whole doesn’t understand design any more than it understands art. The business community has trouble relating to the open ended nature of design inquiry, and certainly doesn’t appreciate the personality quirks of the stereotypical designer. Is it our fault that we are misunderstood?

Jean Schneider: Of course, some designers might be irritating… so what?

Ellen Lupton: We have thus arrived at a compelling turn in the evolution of design consciousness. The general public is more aware than ever before of the values and languages of design, from graphics to architecture to automobiles. At the same time, many consumers, especially younger ones, distrust the global corporate economy upon which mass production relies. The public–at once skeptical and enthusiastic–wants a way in.

Dr. Richard Buchanan: Bruce Nussbaum is a good friend of design. But it will take more than journalism and blogs to strengthen the house of design.

Got something to say? Send your 500-word response to journal(AT)nextd.org: