Design Patois

Steven Heller:

It’s sometimes embarrassing the way that designers prostrate themselves—and the English language—in their promotional material describing in words what they do, as though their designs alone aren’t enough to tell the story. It may be true that some clients (or prospective clients) don’t have a good grasp of what design is, but most have eyes and can intuit. During the nascent period of graphic design (somewhere around the mid-1920s) all that a commercial artist advertising in one of the many promotional annuals had to say was “Jeanne Doe, calligraphy, layout, illustration,” and the point was made (in part because the services were being bought by agencies or art directors, not directly by clients). Today, with non-design clients being more active in the hiring process, something called design philosophy has become the basis of a new patois. Philosophy is not pejorative, but when it turns to sophistry—beware!