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Identity Theft

There is something unsettling about it, a sense of violation. Then there is the understanding that not much can be done about it. And no, it's not the sincerest form of flattery. Yes I'm talking about people copying and using your design without permission, and with no proper compensation. It's a hard enough profession than to go out and try and get that compensation. Like in many artistic / creative areas the ease at which people shamelessly take what you have worked so hard to create, is hard to enforce. There is yet the iTunes for the design world.

The first time I encountered this blunt "copy-paste" approach was in an open shopping center. I was driving by when something caught my eye. It was the logo of the store front I immediately recognized, only to see the interior was bluntly and crudely pasted from the first, and only store I designed for that brand. In an effort to maintain their brand identity, the store owner stole mine. You see, and this is hard to explain to people outside creative professions, the design process folds in it a lot of who the designer is. It's a process of trial and error, a delicate dance of listening to the wants and needs of the person in front of you, and actualizing them. So when you see that delicate process slapped on, as if no thought has been given to it, it kind of stings.

Some may argue that all designers are thieves among themselves too. There is some truism to it, we all get inspired by the world around us, which happens to have some incredible designers too. The huge difference would be that, designers will "quote" certain aspects to re-enforce their own design. Same as a researcher will quote an article that cements it's hypnosis. With many design apps, design shows, and design magazines it's easy to see why people feel that the designer can be cut out of their process. Which in some cases, and I'll be first to admit, is the right thing to do.

This weekend I was at a 2 hour styling talk. The stylist explained in detail her styling philosophy

teaching people the types of prints, textures, shapes that would work with different body types. It was fascinating for me as a designer to see how people reacted to such a process. But at the end of the day most only wanted to know where each specific shirt was bought at what store. These are natural questions, I deal with similar questions (about sofas, rugs, light fixtures and etc.). I realized that no matter how hard we will try and get the same items, it'll be hard to pull-off that effortless look that was just shown to us.

Design literacy take both time and experience to create that un-known factor of look and feel that make spaces unique, and make people safe and happy in. It's a process that builds an identity to things and office culture to small companies, it's too important to just be "copy-pasted".


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