seeking & creating : researching & discovering : applying & practicing

sustainability in design = changing mindsets + deeds

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The definition of "edge"

What does it take to be both sustainable and conceptually avant garde?

Every creative wants to maintain some kind of edge over his or her competition, and usually the concept stage is where true differentiation has greatest opportunity to occur.

Ideally, concept drives design strategy and is a continuously morphing/evolving process that is not confined by seasons, trends, or other external forces. It forms an integral part of the brand identity and working practices, and, if well-executed, should never incur unreasonable costs.

Good case-study: the highly respected MATERIALBYPRODUCT(worshipful kudos!!!)

The big question: How much emphasis do you place on concept? Or is it all bullshit that gets lost in the marketing typhoon?

With all the financial struggle (oh that can of worms!!!) and multi-tasking independent designers wrestle with, it's easy to abandon the concept-development route (it can be construed as a waste of time, resources and effort, and, at worst, contrived marketing spin) and simply succumb to the overwhelming demands of commercial viability.

Yes, that sober truth at the cash register: whatever sells helps you survive. And you need to achieve critical volume to receive profit, and volume means mass production, and mass production more or less means monotonous replication of similarity.

Embedded in this confusion are questions of worth, value, and profit, albeit tied in with emotional, monetary, ethical/sustainability and intellectual issues.

How do we measure the worth of conceptual development and how much (or how little) value it adds to the final product?

In the context of mass production, does 'concept' simply become a futile pursuit?

Does the end-user even want to know or care, anyway?