The international style can be critizied for over-simplifing man when dreaming of a better world but its goals were as uplifting, meaningful and respectable as they can be. They made historical sense and even today are as necessary as ever but in our digital flat world they are only present as lifestyle fetish.
Take a stroll through Pinterest and see how the symbols of the international style are everywhere but their political message is nowhere to be found. And I have to admit it, all this reduction of ideology to fetish has a point. Absolute clarity and rationality are imposibilities on a post ideological world and its repurpose as lifestyle porn on Tumblr points to what people care about.
My tumblr is better than yours thus I exist and the invocation of Dieter Rams is just the right ammount earnestness and adulthood for my curated self. However superficial, the fact that an aesthetical ideology is repurposed as decoration for taste/identity building is what we should pay attention to. Taste is now the final end point.
In a digital flat world, taste and meaning cannot be dictated when brands are crowded out by billions of free, hyperactive, creative and empowered users. Creativity, curation and production are part of everybody’s daily life. Everybody can and is a designer, everybody wants to be justified (famous) and everybody needs to be unique (uniqueness = existence). Although it must be said that not all designers are professional designers.
For the non professional designer; creativity, curation and production are the byproducts of digital existence which in turn define his/her identity: I create/curate/produce and this makes me who I am. The professional designer shares the same process but with different implications: I create/curate/produce and this solves the problem I am paid to solve.
If digital tools and internet access are cheaper than clean watter, mere problem solving is not enough. For the professional designer, taste is bread and butter since the cost of creating/curating/producing tends to be zero. Design must generate emotion and use (never dictate) values. For profesional designers, taste is the tool and end point of work.
If going pro means redefining taste as tool, we can not realistically separate taste from its psychological implications. It would be too much to ask professional designers to be infintely flexible when using taste. After all, some said that personal change can equal (self) violence and that would be much for a polite XXI century job offer.
If psychopathy comes to mind, take relief in conceptual art: it is not the object, it is the idea (taste) in the other end (user) that makes art (design). Yes, there is nothing authentic about the XXI century and for the most part we are all psychopaths or conceptual artists. This is the zeitgeist. Don’t blame the player, blame the game.
Taste is the end product for all. Whether this is positive, sustainable or transformative is something we should leave to cultural critics but the economical imperative remains. Taste is what we sell and what we are.