Last week I happened to listen to a piece on the radio about the decline of team sports in America. As a mother of 3 kids, 2 of which are part of team sports, it got my attention. Aside from all the back and forth about costs, lack of interest of the kids, helicopter parenting, etc. It got me thinking that in fact there might be a greater issue at hand, something that I worry about. I fear that there is a 'flattening' of our society to what theBlue Man Groupcalls the 2 and 1/2 dimension.
As a society at this point I find we lack rigor and will to make that extra effort. Most of us will admit we do not wish to spend the effort or time driving kids to god forsaken places to get ice-time or pool time, it requires effort, planning ahead, and yes dealing with an uncomfortable option your kid may lose. We want things to be happy, crisp, clean and so very easy, which is kind of like flat coke. This lack of rigor, commitment and effort hold true in many fields nowadays, the one in particular I'm concerned about is the area of design. Things look very easy on HGTV and it's off shoots, places like communal painter spots which allow us all to be Picasso for a night, easy measuring apps, 9 minute pasta dishes, easy 1 click furniture shopping, you name it. We are all short for time and by way of that we forget to stop and dig deeper into things, investigate them a little, expand our knowledge, and do some of the 'dirty' redundant work that is required. About 6 years ago, the Tate Modern in London held a special exhibition to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of its building. I have an affinity to this building, and greatly admire the Swiss architects, Herzog De Meuron who designed it. So my disappointment when I saw the turbine hall exhibitors, was huge. Here there was a once in a life time opportunity to articulate a thoughtful artistic display, and what it ended up being was a sad display of our declining culture. The exhibitors themselves were busy on their phones/computers "connecting" via social media. They forgot to connect their display to the building or the viewers who came to experience it, it felt haphazard, and not very well put together.
But why do these things rub me the wrong way so much? Is there a connection between the lack of rigor and discipline to poor design choices? Maybe yes, maybe no. What I do know though is that good design requires attention to details not only to plans, flashy 3D models, but also to people and their behavior, culture and language. Good design can be full of humor and thoughtful when there is an investment in liberal arts and history education, not just when it comes from a DIY kit.
Design is a language and as one who is bilingual, and studied a third - I can earnestly say that is requires rigor, and hard work, skills that in essence can be learned while doing team sports.