Never look back they say; but sometimes it’s OK to look back?! I’ve been digging through a huge memory container (IE: A massive plastic tub full of love letters, fan mail, school diaries and more) and I’ve found some gold that I’m more than happy to share.

I was in design school when I wrote (and presented) this Umbrella Design Philosophy which makes me around 20yrs old at the time. When I got up to my ‘kissing analogy’ I distinctly remembered my lecturer at the time with his hand on chin, nodding his head left and right in what I assumed was a sign of disapproval. Thinking there was something wrong I paused only for him to smile and say “Only you could come up with something like that Justin!”.

At the time no one got it (but my lecturer), where I usually aim to ‘just pass’ uni assessments I actually exceeded on this one. So here it is, unedited bar a handful of grammatical tweaks to make it read a little better:

First of all I’d like to start by saying that I think I’m too young to come up with a philosophy that I can adhere to. Too young mentally, too stubborn to think about Plato and other people’s theories and philosophies. I just want to go with the flow. Philosophy can be defined as a love for knowledge, maybe I can relate this socially to my love of my social life, and because I am a design student, I guess design will find it’s way into my social life whether at times I am aware of it or not. It was put forward to us that we should be seeing everything around us from a designers perspective . Thinking like a designer at times makes me feel like a bad whinger; “Oh these stairs are badly designed, they should have made them like this, or they should have made them out of this…” etc, but I guess this is more objective than simply saying “These stairs suck”.

There are three major details that draw me to design. There is POWER, there is STYLE and there are AESTHETICS and there are two parallel worlds in which they exist. There is the object world and the living world, there are things we love and the people we love.

POWER: It’s almost unfair the way power is used in design. There are huge companies, powerful companies which have built up an image or a name so strong that no matter what they come up with it would be a success. Using attitude in design is a powerful took, being different is bold and powerful. The quite conservative Alessi taking in Philip Stark, the “bad boy” designer, was a bold move and it proved to be a powerful move for Alessi and Stark. The use of exotic materials on normal ordinary products like toothbrushes, clocks, cutlery, anything, can turn a bland object into a powerful designer object. Socially power plays a sightly different role. Influential people are powerful people. There are mind games and power games; An example is the power game at the beginning of a relationship. When you first meet the person you think, “Man they’re cool”, you don’t know anything about them yet, it could be all a facade, an act. It’s almost as if you make the person your ideal person in your head, they’re so cool but the two can’t go on being so cool, people have to open up to each other, everything is fine if two people open up together but if one person opened up before the other, for example; they could admit their love for the other person or babbled on about themselves a lot they become uncool, they give the other person the upper hand and the other can even play hard to get, play the snob, the bastard or the bitch which only makes you want them even more. The fact that they know you like them and they know all about you shatters the image they had when they first met you, it makes you boring, you’re not so mysterious anymore. Well getting off power there is STYLE.

STYLE: Being a designer, photographer or an artist or all of them together is an achievement, but to develop a consistent, original and personal style is a greater achievement. Developing a style is probably a task too big for me to grasp just yet but I want to go with the flow, to let my style develop like growing up from a baby into a teen into an adult, to start off weak and grow strong, to feed off designers which have style and learn from them. There is a hazy line between design and style and social style. Fashion style is a perfect example. What affects fashion? Is it a life style or is it a design style or are the two the same? Socially we pick up style over other people, for example; The Fonz had style which rubbed off onto other people. Fashion can make someone stylish, the way one moves and talks can be stylish and again, people are highly influential on these things. Skipping from relationship to relationship one can develop styles sexually. Taking kissing for example; people kiss in different ways and two people kissing for the first time have different styles and you learn off each other. Perhaps if you break off with someone you will kiss the next person differently to the way you kissed before kissing your last partner. Well enough of style, we’re now moving to AESTHETICS.

AESTHETICS: “Form follows Function”, we hear that a lot. Aesthetics to me plays the strongest part in design. Design is overall, aesthetically pleasing, design is glamorous but not to all. A designer can look at something that is well designed whether it’s a building, item of clothing or an object and say “Wow, that’s beautiful” but it all depends on the bracket that you’re in. If you were a poor person, perhaps you would hate these things, find them disgusting. There are designers that would define the grungy ripped-up clothing that some people wear to be anti-aesthetic but to some people these clothes and old worn cozy lounges bought from the Salvo’s are aesthetically pleasing.

In a way, aesthetics relates to the “Yin Yang” symbol which means “In all of bad there’s a bit of good, and in all good there’s a bit of bad”. Something ugly but totally useful can be loved and something beautiful but totally useless can be loved. This can go further when you analyse people. “Beautiful” people like models and superstars would raise different opinions from different brackets of people. Lots of people would say that Claudia Schiffer is nothing special, anorexic and so on. A lot of the time, knowing someone with a beautiful personality can make them wholly beautiful, much more beautiful than any of the super models and super stars we know nothing about.

CONCLUSION: I realise that I am still drowning in youth, temporary is the world which best suits my lifestyle. Temporary love for people, temporary love for objects, temporary image, temporary philosophy.