offf bcn 2006 – much wank & ze frank

offf really is not my festival. star-designers doing a show & tell is just not my idea of … oh, whats the word i am reaching for here? … interesting; and please notice, that i am not even expecting it to be fun. designers showing off their work and saying nothing new about it does quite the opposite for me actually, it iritates me, it annoys me and/or it puts me to sleep.

most of what i saw and heard so far are platitudes along the lines of “and then i did this project for pepsi. [next slide] and then i did that design for *insert name of big shit client here*”. in other words: wank. in fact i just walked out of hi-res, who are giving THE EXACT SAME SPEECH they did last time i saw them speak @ offf in valencia. 2! years! ago! how sad…

and there would be so many interesting topics to talk about when it comes to high design: the political and social implications of what it means to be designing stuff for global companies. the social responsibilities designers should face not to convey too many stereotypes. educational issues like how to share the skills with others, kids!, and how to teach the masses. the revolution in user-generated content we can currently witness. and many more.

luckily before hi-res there was ze frank and he did pick up one of those very relevant topics. he spoke very cleverly about this situation where users start to create content like crazy and what this means to him as a designer. with a huge sense of humor he spoke about projects he had launched, where he had asked people to contribute content and how the projects took a completely different spin than what he had originally intended. now those are some great and very relevant reflections. at least he really seems to be taking this challenge to heart.

the tools for creation are available to anyone these days and people are starting to contribute content left and right, designs, music remixes, text in blogs, video, code. in short, people want to participate in the creative process and they are sooooo tired of designers and other elitists telling them whats cool and what they should like. projects like joshua davis “the dynamic canvas” probably interests exactly three people in the whole world: some wired editor, hector ayuso, the curator at offf and joshua davis himself. this kind of work is simply tooo out there. people want simple stuff, and, like ze frank said, they like myspace, for gods sake … lol.

ze frank used the elephante parable to describe where we currently stand with this user-generated content revolution [he actually described it as a renaissance]. just like the blind men describing the different parts of the elephant we all seems to have a different take on the phenomenon at the moment. only in time will we understand what and why something works. to observe this process and to understand it is an interesting challenge designers could and should face now; instead of creating festivals that aim to keep them on their high horse.

About Jan Zuppinger

Jan Zuppinger has been writing this blog since 2002. He likes to grow vegetables. He likes to eat them too. He has opinions on everything, but sadly no one cares. Jan Zuppinger is not joking, just joking, he is joking, just joking, he's not joking. *click.