I stumbled across a good interview from 2005 with Michael Bierut that’s worth a read in its entirety. If you’re not familiar with Bierut, he’s a partner at Pentagram who sums himself up pretty well here:
I have to admit that I’m open-minded to a fault about design. I like lots and lots and lots of different things. And I know, I’ve worked for, and I’ve worked with people who have much stronger opinions about design.
His level-headed view of design and the function of bullshit is something he’s touched on before, but here he cuts through some of the dogma designers often preach and gets to the heart of the matter:
If you design a toothbrush, you can say that 98% of the people who used it said it felt better, then the dentist actually looks in their mouth and says they actually got out the stuff, you know? You can’t do that with a color or a curve. Graphic design’s function is so simple. As long as you can make out the picture and read the words, it’s functioning. So everything else is up for grabs. Whether it’s serif or sans-serif, whether it is big or small, on a red background or a green background. So people have just made up those myths just to sort of simplify their decision making process.
There’s also a nice bit on embracing uncertainty:
The difficult thing is that, in the end, there always comes a point when they have to simply make a leap of faith. You can’t prove to them that red is the right color, or that this certain kind of curve is any better than any other kind of curve.
The entire piece by Alexander Gelman is up over at Design Indaba.