I saw the Charles and Ray Eames exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California this past weekend. (Thanks to James Cham for prolifically tweeting about it. It was really, really good.) Among the many highlights was this 1972 interview on design. It’s short and sweet, and you should read the whole thing. Here are my favorite excerpts:
What is your definition of “Design,” Monsieur Eames?
One could describe Design as a plan for arranging elements to accomplish a particular purpose.
Is Design an expression of art?
I would rather say it’s an expression of purpose. It may, if it is good enough, later be judged as art.
Is it a method of general expression?
No. It is a method of action.
Is Design a creation of an individual?
No, because to be realistic, one must always recognize the influence of those that have gone before.
Is Design a creation of a group?
Is there a Design ethic?
There are always Design constraints, and these often imply an ethic.
Does Design imply the idea of products that are necessarily useful?
Yes, even though the use might be very subtle.
Is it able to cooperate in the creation of works reserved solely for pleasure
Who would say that pleasure is not useful?
To whom does Design address itself: to the greatest number? to the specialists or the enlightened amateur? to a privileged social class?
Design addresses itself to the need.