Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Intraview 1: Cedar Pasori, Telfar Clemens, Babak Radboy

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What does this project mean to you personally but also culturally?

Not many of my projects have a personal effect on me. I don’t get the satisfaction that many designers speak of in seeing my work on a billboard or in the app store. By the time it’s reached the public I have moved on, or am afraid that I’d see a mistake if I paid too much attention. The only project that has really had a personal affect on me is working with Bangarra about 5 years ago. It was scary to communicate on behalf of an indigenous company with a visual language I felt I didn’t understand well enough, or that I didn’t have a right to use. But the experience really clarified my understanding of the role of a graphic designer, that primarily you are a conduit for ideas, not an owner.

As far as culturally, on first reflection my culture is very plain, and the work I have done is pretty mainstream. There is still a back and forth there but I’d say its pretty typical. I’m white Australian, grew up in a safe suburb, did well enough at an average school, fairly typical tourist and consumer of—I’d guess—60% popular culture, 40% high culture. In this kind of bubble you can lose the confidence to take risks and this can easily translate to design. I am guilty of it, but i’m also aware of it whereas a lot of people aren’t and i think it leads to the vast mediocrity in design today.

It can also make you less confrontational because you can get away with never really having to stand up for yourself. I myself don’t make strong personal judgements and if i do i feel quite embarrassed about it, but something I’ve learned to like about myself is an ability to see both sides of an argument. I like it as a thought experiment to mentally argue the opposite of what you believe. This comes in handy in design to empathise better in research contexts and receive critique more thoughtfully.

Question co-opted from Cadear Pasori interview with Telfar Clemens and Babak Radboy on The Fader.

The Aboriginal voice in Australian design

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An area of huge significance and potential for exploration in Australian design is our understanding of indigenous Australian culture. A huge difficulty that has faced Aboriginal people is in communication. There is a disconnection in the language between white and black Australia both spoken (heard) and unspoken (seen). This is the result of a violent and guilty past which is tolerated by most white people with embarrassed forgetfulness and by Aboriginal people with anger and sorrow.

Designers have long asserted the influence of their craft on a social and political level. It can be demonstrated – from Jazz, to Nazism – where a visual aesthetic has offered more than a colour scheme throughout the course of history and where the tone of communication has galvanised a message. In this new era, we as experts of visual communication in Australia should be asking what can designers offer to the betterment of this country? And, where have we gone wrong in the past?

Anglo designers and artists working in Australia have, in the past, drawn from Aboriginal motifs in proclamation of our independence and individuality from Britain. On stamps, air hostess uniforms and most blatantly the Sydney Olympic logo. It plays well for our global identity. However, the presentation of Aboriginal culture in this way is perhaps just as damaging, given the ongoing national struggle to fully accept and respect the original owners of our country. The plagiarism and simplification of indigenous motifs and symbols in this way is disrespectful.

Designers today should in all cases aim to present the true sense of what being Australian means, in the everyday visual media that they effectively craft. This should have alive within it an understanding of Aboriginal culture and language. Australian design, fashion, hospitality, entertainment and indeed big business should all be open to the recognition of this cultural asset as part of the make up of their/our visual identity. There will be a time of uncertainty, mistakes will be made to the offence of both sides but this is necessary to strengthen the debate and our understanding and connection to Australia as a country.

As to how this can be achieved in a day to day sense, I need to think a bit longer… but I would say, as usual, education is key.