Eddie Opara: On Criticism Versus Trolling, Fragmentation of Design, and Joining Pentagram

Eddie Opara of Pentagram in an article on 99u:

As designers, let’s be as optimized as possible with the way we state certain things, because otherwise we will confuse everybody. How many times have you heard, “What does a graphic designer do? And they say, “We solve problems.” But if you solve a fucking “problem,” how come we have so many different design style cars? Or chairs? Didn’t we solve that “problem”?

It’s really that we’re dealing with situations. Designers do not solve problems. No, we do not. We deal with situations at the current time. So, we are never finished.

On being a generalist:

The idea of being the all-rounder is really important. If you’re going to work for me, you should be your own personality but you should do the same things that I do. That includes every type of medium within the area of graphic design. You code a bit, you can animate, you can do print, spatial, everything. Then, you can talk more about the work. You can take on more ranges of work and interests.

On design in America:

I see fragmented [design]. There’s no starting point. There’s no understanding of “We the People” when it comes to aspects of design. It should be an endeavor that is both independent and also from the government: local government, regional, state government, federal government. And it should all be coalescing together. Countries like Germany, Holland, Britain, Switzerland, and France have integrated design through the idea of “we need to help our people understand how we communicate with them.”

America doesn’t have that. It runs on the ideals of stars and stripes. It doesn’t take into consideration the heuristics of design for the people. I find that to be detrimental to the way that America works. If you’ve ever seen a tax form in Britain, it’s so insanely simple. The UK government site won the national design award in Britain because it’s so good. It’s so clear. It could save America a lot of money, because everything would be optimized clearly. But no.

Big fan of Gov.UK and their GDS team.