This very short text is from Recollected Work, a retrospective of projects by the Dutch designers Mevis and van Deursen. The text is a sort of transcription produced by Paul Elliman (the editor of the book) after talking with the designers.
Read the text. Think about your own work thus far in our class, and consider how “content”, “form”, and “production” could become constraint variables which might get set in order to play the game of design work. Start to imagine a particular set of rules which you could formulate, as a commissioner or art-director, which might condition another’s design work.
The activity of design can, at its highest level, be the specification of rules for the production of things, rather than the production of the things themselves. In this assignment you will conduct, from the positions of both rule-maker and rule-follower, an investigation into the conceptual activity of design.
An important part of designing is being aware of how you work, and organizing both your thoughts and the project at hand in a way that makes them and it manageable. But what happens when we make the process itself the content? What if all you have to work with is your ideas about how to work? And what if in addition to scrutinizing how to make graphic design, you must also negotiate setting these rules with someone else (who undoubtedly has their own ideas about rule- and form-making)?
Find a partner in class and come up with a series of 10 rules for how you will make an 11”×17” poster. The only content permitted on this poster are the rules themselves or the result of following them (for example, if one of your rules is “make it red” or “find a photo with a monkey in it” or “tear it in half,” then either these words or their outcomes should appear on the poster). Your rules can be highly specific or more open to interpretation.
Don’t think about how the poster will look when you’re devising your rules. Try to think only of actions, processes, and ways of working that interest you. Also, any method is fair game: you could specify software, printer, hand work, etc. — i.e. think about means of production.
Wed, Sept 28: Find a partner and come up with your list of 10 rules. Begin individually carrying them out.
Monday, Oct 3: Present 2 interpretations of the rule set to your partner and to the class.
Wed, Oct 5: Final 11 x 17 inch poster due.