Saturday, June 26, 2010

When it is so obviously bad ....

From random photos

I have a nagging question that I can not for the life of me come to terms with.
I hope someone can shed some light on this question and the resulting situation for me.

Let me set the stage a little ;

I’m in the design profession so I tend to gravitate to reading posts and blogs and magazine articles about design.

Occasionally another designer will post an image of a project that they have done.
Sometimes these projects are just fantastic, have valuable merit or in some cases are just plain bad design.

My question is, why do other designers who should know better by now in their training and careers provide positive reinforcement towards the design bomb ?

Why do they say it is “fantastic”, wonderful” or some other congratulatory term that is just not applicable to the design. ( not to be confused with the person who did the design )

I get that people want to be nice to one another and there is a great desire by many to be liked by the crowd that you are hanging with, but doesn’t these false platitudes perpetuate ongoing bad design ?

If you are continually told it looks great , then you must think that it does, so why not keep on replicating it in all its poorly laid out proportions ?

I’m wondering why people can’t be nice while also being truthful about ‘the poor design’.
Is it because it is just too personal ?
And by truthful, I don’t mean that you have to be hurtful or demeaning to the person about their poor design.

Maybe it can’t be done in a social media setting because of the lack of face to face and the all important delivery of the voice tone when providing positive reinforcement feedback.

I find this to be a complex dilemma.


Susan aka Miss R said...

You hit the nail on the head with this one Michelle. Generally, my tactic is not to comment at all. I tend to have a very specific aesthetic, so there's lots out there that I find boring, stupid, infantile, and just plain bad. I have a problem in that I am not diplomatic, so I don't say anything at put me in a garden w/a group of people and I'll blurt out anything and in studio crit I'll find a way to enlighten from the negative, but with other pros in social media not so much. Life's too short.

Elspeth said...

Is it a cultural thing? I suspect us Europeans to be a little more candid. We tend to 'call a spade a spade' (as they say in Yorkshire) ;o)

Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

I think you hit the nail on the head for me in your response.
Taking an adroit tact by not commenting when interacting in social media may be the best solution in these kinds of situations, because, as you astutely said, 'life is too short'.

But it still makes me wonder.... what the fuck was this design professional thinking ( or not thinking) of .

What and how can you really say it ?
Dear friend, you I like, the design, NOT so much.

Desert Dweller said...

Great points. Yes, I agree it is often peer-pressure.

I cannot resist expanding your topic by how design-challenged folks comment negatively on skilled design, appropriate plants, sense-of-place, tough materials, etc. They are often not the cliches of some "expert" prima donna, or the "majority" of landscapes in their locale, or not pop-culture in their area, etc.

This might not be a major problem there as here in the high desert, but from many HGTV episodes showing instant-weekend landscapes in the Bay Area, it is at least a minor issue there, too.

donna said...

I think the polite way would be, "And what was your thinking behind this design?" I wonder how often the answer would be it was done that way at the client's request. ;^)

Christopher C. NC said...

In the social media setting you are using writing not speaking. Very few people have the writing skills or will take the time required to express fully and with the nuance needed to critique a bad design without making it feel short, snappy, snotty and personal. Even when a writer sincerely meant no ill intent, it is to easy for a reader to project their own internal self doubts on what is being read by them.

Perhaps people who have offered constructive criticisms have been too often burned and given up. Making nice has its own rewards.

danger garden said...

Love this post and agree (although I am not a professional) when I see things that scare me I just don't comment. Or if I do I pick out something (like a particular plant) to say something nice about while ignoring the rest.

I recently posted about my new front garden 'design' and I know it looks bad. I wasn't looking for anyone to say kind things...I was just sharing where it was, so that later when it (hopefully) has grown in and makes sense people will know what it looked like, before.

And I definitely think it's a cultural thing. West coast needs to generally make nice, East cast not so much. Anyway...I look forward to other responses....

allanbecker-gardenguru said...

Once upon a time we had honesty in journalistic criticism and a reward system that praised only the great. Then we were infected with political correctness and everyone's endeavors became outstanding simply because they tried hard.
It had become socially unacceptable to allow only the best to shine. A very bad message was being disseminated. It informed the untalented that they were the equal of the talented. One can make the argument that this is a consequence of the continuing democratization of society that is , on one hand , trying to disparage the elite among us because no one deserves to have greater merit than another, and on the other hand, praising the mediocre so that they too might experience the positive effects of being praised.
And into this social atmosphere we must add , unfortunately, the internet that allows all of us evaluate and broadcast sometimes uncredentialed opinions.

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

I this large tapestry of different strokes for different folks. I also subscribe to the don't comment if I don't like it tactic. And there is PLENTY that ain't my thang...and I ain't commenting. design "professional" of not. But...hey...whatever floats your boat!

Alice Joyce said...


I take pleasure in knowing that when I manage to set aside time, and arrive at your blog, there'll be something cogent, or better yet, challenging musings to light a fire to stimulate my weary mind.

Vicki said...

I think it is too public. If you were to critique a design everyone who reads will know and it will not go down well - for the designer (who may feel belittled)nor the person giving feedback (who may look bitchy). I tend to just not comment if I don't like something or find something about it I do like to comment on. If you feel strongly perhaps you could privately email them? BTW, I generally follow sewing blogs which are a bit more personal than design blogs. But still, we all have feelings.

Christine said...

I really appreciate this topic. When a blogger posts a project, I think it's a matter of understanding the intention of the post. Is it meant to be an invitation for critique? Perhaps the blog is meant to be an extension of the designers portfolio? Unless they specifically ask, I would have to agree with Susan's philosophy, too.
While I love your pragmatism regarding design principles, I think many other folks can take an observation too personally. If the design is bad, that means by extension they are bad. I certainly don't agree with this viewpoint, but perhaps it lends a perspective to why fellow bloggers are unnaturally supportive of each other.
I think also that many people are trying to drive traffic to their own sites, typing sweet nothings in the comments to make the original poster a more loyal follower.