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Mauro Pinheiro amidst a post about the deficiencies of Rio de Janeiro’s Subway signage says that:

But, as it’s becoming a trend nowadays, a recent “new management” has decided to change the Metro’s image. A new brand strategy. And, as you may imagine, they worked hard to make us believe that they were doing better than the old management. But, as a designer, I usually see beyond the brand discourse.

Well, i just can’t help but wonder whether those are not consequences of this boastful design-discourse (which i would actually call design-pep-talk, tough…) we are all so used by now?

I too have become used to this bull that a “new design” is used to imply or show that there is something right with a given administration or product. But see.

Design, in it’s unending pretense to be a crucial issue in the modern world, is ALL THE TIME saying (and trying to prove, even!) that without a proper design a given product can’t really be a proper product.

Allow me to check this assertion out in the particular case of the subway. Uhn. Well, at that place, the “fundamental design” is actually just some signs. Even the criticism provided by Mauro is ridden with the assumption that design is needed: the title is “publicity beats functionality”. The subtext is that design is functionality.

Now i do not mean that design is not about the way things work. It is. But also is marketing. And also the ticket seller’s job is about the way things work. All of it has to work, and the design process is no owner of “function”.

The end result of design has to be things that work, but saying so is like saying that humans have to breathe. They do. But this does not depict my life in a reliable manner.

Thinking about design has, for way too long, been mixed with arguments for selling design. It has become a pep-talk for selling design. Showing how “design is fundamental” for a modern enterprise. How “society needs design”. And so on. To the point we can no longer see anymore what is pure bullshit and what are ideas we really need on a day-to-day basis to understand what we do.

And that is why i am adamant about this point: it is just some signs. Branding is just some dingbats to put on your plastic bags. Ergonomy is just a fancy name for those tables with the sizes of human body-parts.

Let’s start from that. And understand.


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