Year Zero?

I have just returned from the OFFF fes­ti­val in Barcelona. Ear­lier this year, they asked me for a state­ment about the future. They announced this the Year Zero, a restart. Go back to zero, wipe out the past, etc. Not sure I agree with that, but that’ll be the topic for another comment.

Usu­ally, I deny these requests because I don’t like mak­ing pre­dic­tions about sub­jects I don’t know. But they insisted, and in the end I sent them this lit­tle piece:


Rethink Design, Redesign Think­ing.
As a designer, I like the future.

After cen­turies of being dom­i­nated by tech­nol­ogy – from cut­ting wood to print­ing neg­a­tives, from bak­ing mud bricks to rein­forc­ing con­crete – design­ers of all dis­ci­plines now have the tools to present and make any­thing imag­in­able. There is no excuse for not com­ing up with new con­cepts. Design­ers and archi­tects can no longer blame their short­com­ings on the lim­its of tech­nol­ogy. There will always be clients to blame – that has not changed since the Pope asked Michelan­gelo to paint the ceil­ing of that lit­tle chapel in the Vatican.

The best thing, how­ever, is the fact that we are begin­ning to real­ize some­thing else: we have tal­ents that go beyond mak­ing things work well and look good. We can also take apart ideas, look at them, throw away what is not needed and put them back together again. Design­ers can redesign think­ing. And we need to, because nobody else will.

9 comments

  1. Jk

    Very inspir­ing lec­ture in Barcelona. Thank you for that and for (ITC) Offic­ina. Greet­ings from Belgium.

  2. John Hudson

    Appar­ently the organ­is­ers really do have no his­tory. If they had, they would have known that the con­cept of ‘Year Zero’ was first pop­u­larised by Mus­solini. I have seen Ital­ian books of the fas­cist era with the pub­li­ca­tion date given as e.g. ‘Year Seven’.

  3. Yes, and in the cen­tral sta­tion in Milano you can still see inscrip­tions with the year of con­struc­tion given as VI. As on many other build­ings built until 1943. The year Mus­solini came to power was their year zero.

  4. Dear Erik,

    Thanks for a very, very inter­est­ing and inspir­ing ses­sion on OFFF the 2011th One of the best and rewarding

    Sin­cerely,

    Mag­nus Ger­bola
    Copen­hagen, Denmark

  5. alan

    redesign think­ing? What are you talk­ing about? And as for design­ers being the only ones who can do it, that’s giv­ing us rather more influ­ence than we have.

  6. Inter­est­ing com­ment: “The best thing, how­ever, is the fact that we are begin­ning to real­ize some­thing else: we have tal­ents that go beyond mak­ing things work well and look good.” Totally agree.

  7. I am not talk­ing about the influ­ence we have, but our tal­ents: being able to visu­al­ize thoughts and ideas is very pow­er­ful. That is what I mean by redesign­ing think­ing. We can make peo­ple under­stand things, we can com­mu­ni­cate thought.

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