Whether you are a design nerd or not, design is something that we can all pay more attention to.
The more practical power of design can be found in graphic design. It happens to be my personal favorite part of design (and art). Graphic design is what impacts us all (visually) every single day. Take a stop sign, as an example. The font, the size, the shape, the color and how it transcends universal cultures and language. It’s very pedestrian and it works. Maybe that’s what I like it. Maybe that’s what graphic design should always do (along with being a little provocative). Maybe that’s why documentaries like Helvetica, Objectified, Urbanized and everything else by independent filmmaker and photographer, Gary Hustwit, has always spoken so deeply to me His recent documentary on designer Dieter Rams titled, Rams, is equally beautiful).
What makes us who we are?
It’s not grandstanding, but the graphic design in our lives is a way to better understand ourselves (and who we are). I was very moved by the documentary, Design Canada. I cam across it on one of the streaming services, and was surprised that it flew under my radar. This movie unpacks Canada’s national identity (and where it came from). From the Canadian flag and national anthem to the logos and icons of our country and the corporations within it. Why is this unique (and why you don’t need to be Canadian to appreciate this)? The elements around us shape who we are and how we think and interact with one another. In the 1960s and 1970s, these questions were suddenly (and systematically) answered in Canada (for our national identity to the biggest corporations), and the answers came from a very innovative group of designers (mostly graphic designers). And their work – as diverse as their own backgrounds (many were immigrants and new to North America) and the clients that they served – did manage to unify and codify an entire nation. How did Canada shift from a colonial outpost to the vibrant and beautiful multicultural society that the world now enjoys? Believe it or not, it had a lot to do with graphic design. The images, the messages and the icons that were created then still resonate to this day. I found it stunning that the Canadian flag made its first official appearance in 1965 (that’s, like, yesterday).
A most creative time. The most creative time?
If you’re in the business of business, this is a must-watch movie. You will see how brands were born, designed and implemented to create a legacy (and not just a momentary impact). There are countless lessons in this movie from the designers, and how things evolved at that time that would serve any business that is trying to figure out what aligns consumers to a message today. Of course, it’s not just graphic design, but that’s small thinking if you think that graphic design is only some fonts, colors and a simplistic interpretation of a complex business. Graphic design is core to defining true culture.
Watch Design Canada, think about your business and ask the tough questions of what it will take to thrive moving forward.