Ellen Lupton spoke at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia Tuesday evening as part of the five-part lecture series, Periodic Lectures on Design. The lectures, sponsored by the University of the Art's Corzo Center for the Creative Economy and DesignPhiladelphia, are intended to create a dialogue about innovative and creative ways of navigating through design and business.
Ellen Lupton, who believes "lectures should never be longer than a TV show," gave a humorous and inspiring lecture on her self-published books—intended to help others use design as a tool. She also addressed how books "have become a site of frenzied social activity" for a generation assumed to have moved away from print. To set the tone, Lupton admitted: "People often assume I'm shy but once I get a phallic object in my hand..." [insert smirk and awkward laughs here] "You should try it, ladies. It's nice." The lecture was appropriately structured through a set of chapters, all used to encourage self-publishing books as a way for an "author" to be a part of the entire process and take advantage of the "social nature" of books. Lupton spoke to the "death of author, birth of reader," and transitioned into how the term "reader" has shifted its association to a machine or device, such as an Kindle or iPad.
Lupton, in the final chapter of her lecture, shared her opinion on digital e-reader's through a love story with a Kindle, ending in an affair with an iPad. She spoke about the seductiveness of the iPads interface, despite Kindle's ability to be taken to the beach on a sunny day. "But then she meets iPad. She touches his skin and he responds. Now every time she touches Kindle, he doesn't do anything and just lays there. She decides to go to bed with iPad. Who goes to the beach, any way?" But does this story have a happy ending for the iPad? Well, not quite. In a final illustration, the girl is holding an iPhone and the text reads "...she is a slut."
Ilyssa Kyu is a designer residing in South Philadelphia. She currently works as an experience designer & strategist at P'unk Avenue and regularly does graphic design & consulting freelance work with the Mayorâ€™s Office of Sustainability, CultureWorks, GreenLimbs, and South Philly Green Drinks.
Her personal work explores how design can intervene in our complex relationship with nature through engineering empathy into objects and experiences.