Over the next months we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to Core77DesignAwards.com
Designer: Michele Champagne
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Category: Visual Communication
Award: Professional Winner
That New Design Smell is a design criticism magazine based on dialogue rather than monologue. It experiments with open content production where criticism engages an active online public at thatnewdesignsmell.net and then the dialogue is edited into a printed magazine.
The magazine began as a thesis proposal at Rietveld Academie's Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam with the objective of thwarting design's mandatory optimism, lame designer lingo and 'likedy-like' mafia. While there are several obvious approaches to infusing critical thinking in design, some are too easily dismissed. More monologues from professionals are known to be ignored. Academics used to own criticism, but now—with blogs and forums—it belongs to everyone. Yet, more often than not, design blogs are short, shallow and trite. Professional blogs may be smarter, but their public relations are too obvious.
As an alternative, That New Design Smell introduces an independent venue for design criticism and dialogue in a post-medium fashion—it offers a dirty yet diligent dialogue online and a batterie-free product in print.
Champagne questions the multi-million dollar budget for Toronto's G20 World Summit and the mysterious black-masked vandals.
How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?
The news of jury recognition came from an email from Core77 staff (Sarah).
What's the latest news or development with your project?
That New Design Smell is developing a business plan to continue post-studies. The trickiest part is the revenue model. Since the magazine is dedicated to critical-thinking—which requires independent-thinking—we are seeking an independent revenue model. When it comes to claims of independence in publishing, we say "follow the money." Ideally, we would operate without special interests involved—whether advertising, corporate sponsors or government subsidies. That said, the traditional revenue models for magazine are advertising-driven and no real alternative currently exists. More contemporary models break with tradition but often leave contributors undervalued and unpaid, like with Huffington Post for example. In order to provide a meaningful and paid platform for our contributors, we're juggling with a variety of models right now—from crowdsourcing to merchandizing, from non-profit to cooperative corporation models. This is the latest development.
What is one quick anecdote about your project?
When That New Design Smell won first place for Student Prize Graphic Design 2011 from the Graphic Culture Foundation in Holland, comments from the jury provided an invaluable lesson in design and in how design awards typically work. The jury thought the concept and media model were fantastic, as was the need for such a project to exist. They thought the magazine was "not pretty" however. But since the magazine was communicating disgrace, the "not pretty" factor was considered a plus. This was the first time I came face-to-face with aesthetes that were open-minded and not stuck in stylistic traps according to their own taste. It reminded me that design could succeed by being more than simplistic likes and dislikes.
What was an "a-ha" moment from this project?
There were two a-ha moments for That New Design Smell. The first was when Arial was chosen as the only typeface. This made everything conceptually-driven in the name of "disgrace." It also made typesetting much simpler. The second a-ha moment was when the pan-media model was embraced. Rather than pontificating about print vs web, the magazine decided to embrace any media on which design dialogue could happen—from print to web, video, songs, events and performances. Following this, each piece was looked at individually for what it could do best: the web could afford a public feedback loop, print could afford a rich reading experience, events could afford intimate experiences, and so on.