We are happy to announce issue number 7 of David Report bulletin called Vulgarism. This new issue will take you on a trip into the ongoing convergence between design and art. Teapots in super size, huge Pinocchio dolls in mosaic, porcelain horse heads and knitted dogs. Is design flirting with art, or is it art flirting with design? What is it that we see; a smart merge between the two or an “easy” way to earn a buck and get massive PR, for both designers, producers and gallery owners? To get some further indication we have asked Oliver Ike, Giuliana Stella and Christian Geissbühler to give their views from their particular insights and standpoints.

Click the image above to read Vulgarism. And yes – it is free, thanks to our sponsor Absolut.

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  1. cherif morsi says:

    Jul 5, 2007

    That is actually such a nice and enjoyable debate that can be extended to all of our surrounding aspects forming our small lives.
    I strongly believe, as has been written in your post, that it is the market i.e. the current customers and buyers who are mostly unconsciously dragging the industry to where it has become now. I think we are all responsible for what we are witnessing in design now. As most of us, at least, live in such an image-oriented society that design will become, or has already become, like haute couture where very very limited numbers of past models survive for a long time mostly creating a trend of their own. But we will probably see less and less of these “true products” simply because customers have an ever-increasing urge to be “cool”, to adorn a “more modern than everybody else” attitude hence the real need to “surprise” as a means to embark this new need, whether bad or good, but one cannot deny it is a need that is becoming global, even in third world countries, where life quality is becoming so uniformed, so unrooted, so available.
    It is also true that most design manufacturers today seem to be drifting from their utmost important message of promoting real functional design simply because they are very well grasping this trend of IMAGE invading the global world. They are understanding that customers are in a helpless pursuit of fake dreams through fake luxury, or what you refer to as Vulgarism, because the global population is realizing that the world is definitely not going the way they and their parents wanted whether politically, socially or security wise while being completely powerless against governments and strong industrial groups who in turn seem more and more disconnected from reality. Luxury or fake luxury is one of the very few means left for people to detach from the day to day crushing world we live in. They feel they take part of the global dream by buying a new D&G garment for example to feel as part with the global Image world and not feel isolated. The same is slightly starting to happen, with irrevocable consequences, in the design world.
    Though, the picture is not that grim, well at least for me, because of the existence of such designers like Konstantin Grcic. I think he is probably the only one to be able to conduct the design world in a new direction where both art and design fuse together. I know it sounds strange as Grcic’s work can hardly be described as artful, in the good sense. But I realized that Grcic made the impossible possible: to emphasize on the functionality of a design to such perfection that I consider most of his designs as real “pieces of art” because he managed to expose simplicity to its extreme but in a very humanistic way making all of his designs worth looking at as well as worth using on a daily basis. I think he is creating the trend of the future to come where the artistic content so coveted in our current societies will be how to use simplicity and collective memories to create an absolute product, a timeless one. Actually it sounds like the opposite of luxury and that is a good thing I believe.
    To be continued….

  2. Laura Molteni says:

    Jul 5, 2007

    Finally I found it! I was surfing the web looking for someone who wrote about the design/art and, to me, you did in the best way. I have the same view you expressed, but I’m also hopeless about this discussion. As you make a link to it, it is true that the intellectual time of Sottsass, Memphis, Superstudio, Radical design and all the people who aimed a break point within design in the 60’s and 80’s is gone. Today the non-functionally-design is going somewhere else: somewhere the culture and the meanings doesn’t exist, because not needed.

    Luxury business is creating a deadly whirpool. But how can we blame the designers who decide to “play this game”? Most of the time they earn little money – compared with an artist work. And art system moves more people and more money. So why not try to enter this world?
    How dreadful,
    and sad.

  3. David Carlson says:

    Jul 6, 2007

    Cherif, thank you so much for your interesting comment. The image-oriented society you are mentioning is probably one of the main reasons of why we see less really good and thoughtful products. When people just buying products based on the latest trend, the perspective is getting shorter and unfortunately we see more and more crappy products around. I like your description of the Vulgarism as “fake luxury” by the way. Konstantin Grcic is also one of my absolute favourite designers and I have recently had the opportunity to work with him in an interesting design project (which I will write about here when it is launched).

  4. David Carlson says:

    Jul 6, 2007

    Laura, I’m happy that you like the Vulgarism bulletin. I thought it was strange that more or less everyone from the media side was praising the “design-art” and I was lacking an open-minded discussion about it. Money is probably an important driving force (as concerning most things in our world today) and it is distressful that true design is suffering from it.

  5. wendy says:

    Jul 11, 2007

    Great article! at the Milan fair, i really felt like screaming “what is this shit??” I could not appreciate jamie’s works nor the amount of media attention on it. This article verbalized my confusion with the current trends. Thanks!

  6. David Carlson says:

    Jul 11, 2007

    Wendy, thank for your appreciation of the last bulletin. It makes the effort worthwhile. I have to say that I think it is strange that there is so little debate about it. Especially in the printed media…

  7. cherif morsi says:

    Jul 11, 2007

    Well David simply because most of the media have nothing to lose and all to gain as the new Fake Luxury/ Vulgarism is a new thing and media thrives on new things in general. But I believe once this trend starts to be outdated, if it ever gets there, the media will then start crucifying it and most probably hailing the next trend and so on. Actually, maybe this trend will develop to become something else with more substance in the future. It could just be the birth of a much stronger design mouvement like Memphis did. Honestly, I’ve never liked a single design from that era and loads of people share my opinion but it is undeniable they rocked the design scene back then which led to what we have now. Only the future will tell. What do you think?

  8. Martijn Goedegebuure says:

    Jul 12, 2007

    First of all David, thanks for your Vulgarism Report. It makes for some interesting reading and the subject is by no means exhausted yet. I agree with you that there’s a lot of silly design out there purely being created for financial reasons. Selling out, cashing in. This mechanism is however not exclusive to the industry you and I write about. Just look at the music biz…I say no more.

    What I missed in Vulgarism was a contrary opinion. Which is a shame as it would have added to the quality of the debate.

    As for design art (a.k.a Limited Edition), I think it has a function. Giant Tea pots and Pinnochio’s are very unpractical but I do think we need to look at these creations with a different set of spectacles than those of a person looking for user-friendly, functional design. These fantasy pieces push the envelope of design and provoke discussion about the meaning of the trade. You cannot deny that it makes for interesting debate.

    Designers like Studio Job, Marcel Wanders and Jaime Hayon are pionering in the sense that they are searching for new boundaries – wether or not we like what these guys come up with is irrelevant. We must look at the bigger picture. These people with their lavish, decadent creations may just spawn a designer who creates a user-friendly, functional piece of furniture that is so beautiful it wil bring us to tears.

  9. David Carlson says:

    Jul 12, 2007

    Martijn, thanks for your comment! The phenomenon of money as a driving force is of course not only limited to the design industry. Concerning the contrary opinion you are asking for I would just like to say – read all the thousands of articles written about the so called design-art in almost every design magazine out there. I thought it wasn’t necessary to add even more shouts of hurrays… when it’s the open-minded debate about it that is missing. Hopefully I’m in some sense will bring forward a new view to it, and hopingly start some discussions weather it adds something to the design or the art world or not. According to me, which I’m also writing about in the bulletin, the design-art can actually be quite dangerous in the long run. In a time when we live in a world on the boarder of destruction we need more business leaders and politicians to adopt smart strategic design thinking. Unfortunately the design-art will probably just make them refuse design as something for the playground. If the design-art will push the boundaries for designers of user-friendly goods – fine! But I don’t think that’s the motive power – instead, gallery money is probably the driving force…

  10. David Carlson says:

    Jul 13, 2007

    Cherif, the pieces of the postmodernism era is not among favourites either, but as you are saying, they rocked the design scene back then. Not sure however if the so called Vulgarism will add anything in the long perspective…

  11. Martijn Goedegebuure says:

    Jul 16, 2007

    Hi David. Granted there is enough puff press on design art, but a little background information would have been good.

    You lost me with your political rant. Not sure I grasp your view of how design art has anything to do with the destruction of the planet. And I do not share your fatalistic view either. Don’t forget there is a whole industry still churning out mass produced furniture. The stuff you are talking about in Vulgarism comprises only a very small percentage of the total output of objects and products. The innovations you hope will inspire the powers-that-be is a different ball game. That’s research and development.

    As said before, I do think some designs are absolute crap and others are very inspiring. There always has to be an avant-garde to get the rest of us moving.


  12. David Carlson says:

    Jul 17, 2007

    Martijn, we have different opinions and I totally respect yours, things are seldom just black or white in our world. That concerns the design-art as well. In my case I thought it would do more good to provoke a discussion rather than lifting forward just another design-art piece. As I mentioned, the fellow journalists are quite good in doing this already… the design-art is just a fraction if the total output of objects and products (as you are mentioning), and still it has almost a majority of written stories (at least after the Milan design week). I know lots of people that don’t understand a thing… Maybe there are some hidden clue with the styling and decoration? To me it mostly look like an exercise in making pieces purely of financial reasons.
    I think that design actually can make our world a better place, for the many people. However I’m not sure if a giant mosaic Pinicchio is the best solution to move design forward…

  13. Tom Kovac says:

    Sep 1, 2007

    Design and Architecture has potentials meaningful for outcomes that are allready visible in the areas of engineering, innovative hybrid materials, digital fabrication and non standard personalization, as well as innovative strategies for environmentally sustainable responsive and intelligent design. This phase of design and production while still embracing the desire for the speculative and the unpredictable could emphasizing greater control over the symbiotic relationship between creative techniques, processes, and outcomes.
    The potentials for utilising the technologies and conduct research and radical experimentation are there, however within this new dimension there is also the need for critical ‘THINKING’ about the VALUE of design.
    While the history of design demonstrates the value and potentials of creative oucomes produced with a measured balance of rigor and speculation, it also underscores the need for Innovative resonence and move beyond the seemingly uninformed, media driven frenzied object makings of today .

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