Potter – Is a designer an artist? // Eames – What is Design?

I always find myself thinking about the difference between a designer and an artist so the Potter article really interested me. When Potter says, “…every human artefact – whether it be paint poem, chair or rubbish bin – evokes and invokes the inescapable totality of culture,…” it seems to put all art-forms on the same level. I happen to like this idea, but only to a certain extent. The Eames article explains this in a question and answer interaction; “Q. Is design an expression of art (an art form)? A. The design is an expression of the purpose. It may (if it is good enough) later be judged as art.” This is exactly what I always thought but never put into words. Some designs, if good enough, can become pieces of art, as Potter mentioned, and are then pieces of our culture. I think of the psychedelic posters of the 1970s (?) that were designed for concerts. Now they are more of a piece of art then they are marketing material.

I don’t really know if either of these articles clarified the questions they put forth. Potter’s article contained a lot of descriptions about what a designer does in terms of client interaction, and the ideal type of person a designer should be, but I’m still left wondering if he thinks a designer is an artist. He mentioned that drawings can never be an end for a designer which may be true, but I think that the fact that a designer can even draw means something. Designers use nearly every art-form at some point in time in the design process. Drawings become logos, sculptures become prototypes or packaging, paintings become textures, there are endless possibilities.

Eames mentioned something that stuck in my mind. He was asked, “Is design ephemeral?” and his answer was, “Some needs are ephemeral. Most designs are ephemeral.” This sort of contradicts the question I mentioned above, concerning design being considered art. I just wonder if Madame Amic was asking the question pertaining to design trends maybe?


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