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A too early review

October 21st, 2009 by Remco de Blaaij

Fresh from a talk by Conditional Design, I could do nothing other than writing you a congratulate email on your efforts that took the form in Take on me, take me on. Please forget that I’m an interested colleague and hopefully will be able to beyond that role ellaborate a bit on why I think ‘Take on me’ is an important factory. Call it a too early review or something else, but allow me to write down some quick thoughts on the need for an alternative factory that can not only produce kilograms of Flowerpots, Bugaboo’s and Bikes that add even more value to our demanding lives, but can really give shelter to possibilities that feed ideas to a practice that so hardly seem to need an alternative in the process of making and a life that demands a shift of value.

My cautious hunch was sparked off by walking through Take on me and the presentation of Conditional Design this afternoon. Maybe performance-wise not the most notable one in history, but important to at least understand in one way the need for an alternative. Conditional Design drew an outline of their collective practice in which they find themselves in self defined complex results that one might find hard to recognize as design that normally can be better recognized through traditional means that relate to economics, aesthetics, pleasure and practicality. We cannot do anything with the lines on the walls and there is no value that can be put of it in strict selling terms. But how can we perceive it as valuable then and is it not just a play that maybe leaves a nice drawing, but is really nothing more than that?

I believe it’s not, otherwise I would have never written this email. I believe it is not because Conditional Design, as other examples in the show take their practice up for a spin and open up a broader spectrum that can re-value and rethink their practice based on pragmatic tools, the same tools common to there counterparts we see in large quantities on other locations of the DDW. Conditional Design is not always doomed to only kitchen tables experimenting with only five colors of markers in endless nights of gaming, they all have their own studio practice that very much relate to a world much better known by us as graphical designers, sound designers or any other ‘serious’ job. They take on the possibility to extra disciplined themselves, as the American researcher and writer Brian Holmes calls this, in order to reach for new means that are not only possible but also very necessary to their ‘serious’ practice. It comforts me to see that an alternative conducted and perceived to be existing can be so assisting towards their practice. I think then we come to see that not everything is running so smooth as we think and that more is to be discovered under amazing layers of just discovered plastics. What is most notable in this act is that they use their experimental thoughts and actions to implement it back to an ‘original’ practice, you know, the one that we can recognize better. It therefore not only questions the very essentials of designs’ needs, but also does not exclude production to happen, as we see also in this very newspaper. Perhaps it means that we should not be scared for things like this to happen, although at first they are beyond recognition and seem to only touch are eye in search for mere aesthetics. For me this is real design, a form that questions the bones of it, look good, revalue its underlying system and using the only tool that sparks the new and undiscovered, called imagination.

It makes me thus also wonder how utopian beginnings can be connected to ‘facts on the ground’, a term that is often used in a conflict territory that I just came back from. As referred to earlier, writer Brian Holmes talks about extra disciplinary attitudes that feed a form of intellectual practice that not only connects to different disciplines coming from only one, but can also step out its own discipline to reflect on the needs of its very existence. It’s that moment that I would like to imagine as important for every ‘creative practice’, although any suggestion of calling this practice otherwise is very much welcome. It’s the moment that Take on me is beginning to lift up and showing if you try to notice, not as utopia or as something disconnected from anyone’s reality, but really taking on a response ability and possibility that is offered in valuing the moment in which extradisciplinarity can happen even if you don’t recognize it first time around. Ofcourse you don’t have to take that on, you can also just leave it where it was and continue with your business as usual.

One Response to “A too early review”

  1. conditional [Design] painting | Designblog Says:

    [...] Conditional painting is truly happening in the van Abbemuseum. [...]


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