Nerdy Design Wednesday: Design During a Recession




Image from Yale University’s 2004 exhibition “Livable Modernism: Interior Decorating and Design During the Great Depression

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you know that there is a *bit* of a financial crisis going on in the world.  Our new President says we have entered “A New Era of Responsibility.”  What does this mean for the design profession?  A blog I follow called Design Observer has an interesting discussion going on the topic:

Michael Cannell wrote an article for the NY Times called “Design Loves a Depression” in which he makes the argument that during the (last) Great Depression, designers saw “a chance to make good on the Modernist promise to make affordable, intelligent design for a broad audience.”   This was met with much ire at Design Observer by guest blogger Murray Moss who countered with “Design Hates A Depression”. He says that “It tends to suffer, like any of the other humanistic disciplines. New ideas do not get championed or realized. Leadership turns to market-driven accommodation.”

Both make some very valid points, so its hard to say which I agree with more.  What I can say is that Michael Beirut’s response to the whole thing (Designing THROUGH the Recession) has some REALLY great ideas for designers to keep in mind as we navigate our way to the other side of this crisis.

So, have at it in the comments and tell us what YOU think.


Magnani is an experience design and strategy firm that crafts transformational digital experiences to delight users and deliver sustainable competitive market advantages for our clients.


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