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State of Design: Milton Glaser

Listen to State of Design: Milton Glaser

Creator of the iconic ‘I ♥ NY’, Milton Glaser is a veritable legend of design, and one of a rare breed of intellectual designer-illustrators. Glaser’s presence and impact on the profession is formidable. Here, in this sold out event, Glaser joins Melbourne locals David Lancashire, Simon Mundy, Michaela Webb and Warren Taylor via Skype for the 2011 State of Design Festival’s 9 to 5 Talks Program.

Glaser is an engaged and generous conversationalist, reflecting his lifelong interest in education and his desire to share his knowledge as much as possible. He discusses the collaborative way he works - a by-product of being “too stupid to embrace technology” - but repeatedly cautions designers to be aware of ways in which their work could be shaped, directed or made generic by software.

The New York native talks about leverage in client relationships, why he can’t go to lunch with somebody he doesn’t like and why marketing has eroded the creativity and ambiguity from design. He reiterates the point he’s often made about the importance of drawing to designers and how that plays into greater questions about art and reality. It’s a point he returns to later in the session when an audience member asks if illustration is fine art. His thesis about art, it turns out, is deeply considered and heavily emphasises context.

Lancashire asks Glaser to consider what he’d be doing now if he was starting out his career now, while Mundy questions his opinion on celebrity designers. Elsewhere, he emphasises the importance of having a well tuned moral compass and in response to State of Design director Kate Rhodes' question about being a politically engaged designer, explains how he believes design can be used as a tool to realise political objectives. He also expresses some reservations about the newly rapid exchange of information and data, pointing out young people’s sense that reality is of no consequence to them - that “things don’t matter”.

Glaser also offers, via a crumpled piece of paper, his thoughts on keeping an open mind.

In part two, Glaser’s projected image is replaced by Dominic Hofstede and Andrew Ashton, who join the other designers in a discussion interpreting and examining Glaser’s arguments and ideas about design, art, communication, reality and morals.

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