If you are not in a core creative business like design or art, how do you keep up with what is going on in the creative professions?
Yes, we need to parse huge amounts of information across our careers, but you can’t afford to ignore trends in the creative trades. It’s a creative economy now and we need to know what is going on.
How do you keep abreast of all the important developments in design and creativity, if you’re not a natural born designer? Here are five sites that can help. I like to dip into them from time to time – it’s not part of my every day information intake but it’s essential reading. I generally don’t have time to browse catalogues but do have time for sites that gently remind me of their work, through the email.
Dexigner is the daddy and mommy of creative curators. In the ten or so years since it began, the site has had almost 70 million page views. I’ve been following Dexigner for about six years, though I have to say the new home page design leaves me a little frustrated. Go to the directory to start browsing for design ideas and trends.
Design Taxi is newer than Dexigner and a little more in touch with the electronic world. Go here for quirky stories like the Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm project, updates on apps and technologies related to design, as well as aesthetics. I was drawn back to Design Taxi this week by Lomography’s La Sardina beach camera. Take a look.
One of the new generation of curated generic creativity sites Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings appears in my inbox once a week – just about the frequency that let’s me take a quick look without flooding me with information. I go here when I’m tempted by ideas about creativity as a process. This week for example she has unearthed a copy of a 1939 book on how to create ideas, written by one James Webb Young. I won’t read it but I will file it in my mental filing cabinet under: democratization of genius. Popova puts 450 hours a month into the site (not all her own hours I hope). I use it like I might have done, say, Wallpaper a few years back but without all the heavy lifting.
Dezeen is based in London’s east end and on its very doorstep can witness the resurgence of one of the world’s great capitals, motored by designers with a kind of democratising attitude – check out Dezeen’s Designed in Hackney channel for what’s going on in and around the Olympic side of the city. I once bought two watches in a Dezeen pop-up shop in Covent Garden and I only regret one of them. Dezeen is more than competition for Dexigner without being as digitally-driven as Design Taxi. It’s Milan coverage was a real eye opener for me and the more I look at the site the more I learn – slightly better navigation and it would be top of my list. Dezeen has a fair chunk of home produced video from important events – check out this conversation on open source design and production from design week Milan. Message: designers are looking more at designing process and platforms.
Wallpaper has probably the best resources of all the design sites I dip into. Funny, then that it’s the one I use least and that’s maybe a sign of my information budget being too stretched by Wallpaper’s voluminous information. It is more magazine that curation and the output shows just that. Wallpaper have launched a daily design news app for the iPhone. Being a non-smartphone user I won’t be downloading it but it might be useful for managers, executives, writers, who want a shortcut to understanding what’s happening in design. A daily anything though is out of my time budget, right now.
I also try to keep up with the emerging field of hybrid spaces, that is design for physical spaces that have many emerging uses, for example merging augmented and physical realities. I recently came across Designboom but the layout has me guessing which way to go, what is important…. I don’t have that kind of time. It might work well for people in design, but for people looking in, it’s a tough one to navigate. Here is one that I have just found but which aficionados will know well.
Regular readers will know my philosophy is to stay broad rather than go deep, so to accusations of dilettante in art and design, I have to say yes, but somebody who cares about the changing nature of work has to care also about design and about macroeconomics. I’d be really delighted to hear what sites you use – please engage in the comment box. I sense I’m lacking a guide to really radical design. What else?
Reader Maine Acadia suggests Boxes and Arrows as another design curation destination. I confess, I didn’t know it. Having taken a look you too might want to check it out.
Boxes and Arrows is devoted to the practice, innovation, and discussion of design; including graphic design, interaction design, information architecture and the design of business. Since 2001, it’s been a peer-written journal promoting contributors who want to provoke thinking, push limits, and teach a few things along the way.
Reader Roslyn Nassua suggests Core77 and Mocoloco. Core 77 is a tricky one for me to navigate and get quick returns. And it’s important if you’re not in the business to get value quickly. I think the same of Mocoloco, and it feels a little tame. But take a look and let me know what you think.
Reader Lovebird suggests Cool Hunting and yes, what an interesting site. It’s one for the scrollers among us. “With a global team of editors and contributors we create our award-winning publication, consisting of daily updates and weekly mini-documentaries.” Better than the others at being more offbeat.
Reader Creativeroots suggested creativeroots.org. It is a great idea but I guess under-resourced. I hope it grows its content base though – it feels like a necessary initiative to have out there.
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You might also like to read this article on house design and 3D printing. It shows how designers and cheap fabbing are coming closer together, making all kinds of new production processes possible.