November 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Writing a manifesto was our first step to thinking out the title for our degree show. I like writing manifestos. It makes me hopeful and enthusiastic.

From the manifesto we came up with a few key words. From this we proposed some titles for the show. We had fun doing this. I laughed a lot. That’s important for me.

Here’s our brainstorm for the titles. We put down funny ones as well as serious ones.

The last two in the running after voting off most of the titles were ‘Michael’ and ‘Pilot’.

Michael is the one world user. He is the person we design for when we have a user in mind. It’s user profiling – a useful technique. However, I’ve rarely seen anyone on this course actually user profile. I don’t think it represents us at all. We talked a lot about community and collaboration, and supporting one another. This theme doesn’t come into the show name at all.

Pilot works on a few levels. We are driving our own projects. It’s the pilot show, like with TV series, suggesting our debut and that we are planning on carrying on. There were a few other levels suggested too which could work. It’s an ok title. I still prefer Explorers Collective but apparently because it’s a band name we can’t use it.

Michael got chosen. I strongly objected. It just seems silly to me. I can’t bring myself to say ‘come to see our Michael show’. It needs explaining.

“Come to our Michael show.”/”Come to our Goldsmiths show called Michael.”
“Who’s Michael?”
“The one world user.”
“What’s a one world user?”
“The person that we’re designing for.”
“You’re designing for one person?”
“It’s actually about user profiling, so we can design with someone specific in mind.”
“Oh really, I didn’t know you were that kind of course. I thought you were arty and pushing the boundaries. All the other courses do user profiling too. What makes you different?”
“That we called the show a person’s name… personifying the show… we call it Michael, as in, Michael’s really making me angry today.”
“Aha. That’s… funny.”

“Come to our Michael show.”/”Come to our Goldsmiths show called Michael.”
“Who’s Michael?”
“The one world user.”
“Right.” (Goes away none the wiser. Gets bored with having to ask for an explanation. Looks at the show, not really understanding where Michael fits in.)

(Person gets to the show, possibly a non-design visitor from Spitalfields) “Who is Michael then?”
“Our design degree show.”
“Why did you call your show a person’s name? How does that reflect what you do?”
“We’re all Michael. Michael is who we design for. You’re Michael. This design is for you.”
“I’m not Michael.”
“You are, user profiling blah…”
“I don’t like your design. Bye”

Alternative (this one’s positive)
(Person gets to the show, possibly a non-design visitor from Spitalfields) “Who is Michael then?”
“Our design degree show.”
“Oh right, it was just to get me in here then. Ok I might as well look at your stuff.”

If that last one is what happens, great. We’ll get more footfall and I won’t have to stand up for the show’s name. I’ve spent 22 years explaining my own name and I don’t want to have to explain something else’s.

Michael, or any other name, is a good marketing ploy. It’s been done before, but it will probably work.

However, it doesn’t reflect us as designers very well. We don’t employ user profiling as a focus to our work. We experiment and critically analyse. We try to question how things are rather than thinking about designing for a user group – this is what makes us different. We have a totally different approach to the traditional user profiling. We’re probably the course that uses user profiling the least in the country.

If you know that about the course, it’s an ironic name. If you don’t, you’ll think that we’re more traditional than you thought before. We’re not. This name gives a false impression on this level and also in that nobody will understand what ‘Michael’ is implicitly. That will work for us and against us. We’ll have people who don’t know anything about design and not understand what’s going on. Do we need those people to come to the show?

I’m angry to be mis-represented. I do occasionally use user profiling but it’s not on my top ten parts of my design identity. I doubt it would be on more than two people’s top ten in the class.

There’s no point in me rallying against the majority within my own class. I don’t want to alienate myself. So I’ll shut up, and just not get involved. At least for the moment. I can’t positively contribute to this theme unless it’s ironic, which then requires too much explanation. A show name should be about the work, not just a marketing ploy. We have something interesting to give without ploys. It’s a cop out.

After spending a day thinking and discussing our values, coming up with something that completely misses what we’re about is really disappointing.

Some argued that it’s what we’re about in that it’s unusual to call a show a person’s name. That doesn’t outweigh the reason, for me, that it seems to be a silly thing to do, not in a good way.



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