5 Questions: Allan Chochinov

This Thursday Allan Chochinov will be presenting his lecture at Duncan Hall/McMurtry Auditorium on the campus of Rice University. AIGA Houston’s John Luu got with Allan to learn more about what people should expect from Thursday’s event.

Q: Your lecture has a pretty enigmatic title, “Almost.” Can you elaborate just a little bit, you know, without giving it all away?

A: Sure. I’ve been thinking about how design so often comes close to success, but then turns a bad corner and ends up creating more problems than it purports to solve. I’ll be showing a lot of “near misses”—perceived as design triumphs–and identifying where they went wrong. It will be through an analysis of the presumptions of design.

Q: What do you mean by the “presumptions of design”?

A: Well, the first thing is that the motivations of design go entirely unexamined. They are almost always commercial and mass-produced. I will be sharing ways to explore the often misunderstood, misaligned, and often-misguided presumptions of design, and helping designers get in closer touch with their intentions and their processes. Design is now seen as a strategic global resource, enabling innovative brands and companies to compete more effectively. Of course, there has to more to it than that.

Q: You’ve talked about how “designers aren’t in the artifact business; that they’re in the consequence business.” Does this apply to graphic designers as well?

A: Absolutely. Any time you are making more than one of something, you are a mass-producer–whether it’s a pamphlet or a poster or an advocacy campaign. The irony is that most people get into design because they are interested in this kind of consequence; they are interested in scale. But the ramifications of scale are poorly understood, almost never measured, and for the most part, hidden.

Q: You’ve also written that designers need to move “from making stuff to making meaning.”
A: I think that they don’t necessarily need to move, I think they want to move. Client satisfaction, professional accolades and even increased market share are no longer reliable measures of meaningful design solutions. Designers are uniquely equipped to create value, but how value is defined needs to be pushed around by us. I’ll be talking quite a bit about that.

Q: What will attendees come away with from your lecture?

A: I will define territory and vocabulary that will help designers acknowledge and flex their power. I just last week launched a new MFA program at the School of Visual Arts, so I’ll be talking about new mandates and processes in design education. (There will be a lot of takeaways for design educators.) And I’ll be providing frameworks to help recognize both the urgencies and the privilege of being in the world of design. Too often we forget what’s great about our work. It’s problem solving, but it’s also about celebration. Oh, and there will be a lot of humor in the talk. Promise.

About Allan

Allan Chochinov is a partner of Core77, where he serves as the editor-in-chief of Core77.com, and strategist for Coroflot.com and DesignDirectory.com. In addition to his editorial work, he produces design events and competitions, and coordinates content partnerships. Prior to Core77, his consulting work specialized in product design, design strategy, and writing. He has enjoyed working on design projects in the medical and diagnostic fields, as well as in consumer products and workplace systems. (Johnson & Johnson, Herman Miller, Federal Express, Kodak, A.C. Nielsen, Oral-B, Crunch Fitness and others.) He is associate professor at New York’s Pratt Institute, where he teaches two courses in the graduate I.D. department. He has received awards from I.D. Magazine, Communication Arts, The Art Directors Club and The One Club, and has been named on numerous design and utility patents.

Allan will be presenting his lecture this Thursday, April 7, 2011 —  6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Duncan Hall/McMurtry Auditorium on the campus of Rice University
6100 Main Street
Houston, Texas 77005

To learn more about the lecture and to RSVP please visit the link below.



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