Defining our terms.

Art is not design.

Design is not art.

These concepts overlap, but they are not synonymous. Were we to create a Venn Diagram, it would illustrate this relationship perfectly.

Oh. Wait. I already did that.:

Before we go any further than this, we need to really define “art”. In this case there’s two definitions we need to be concerned with.

1. To say something beautiful, created by a person or people, is art.

A painting, a sculpture, a piece of music, a photograph, a ballet.  All of these are examples of which we are familiar.  There are many others, of course, but you get the idea.  To say that art is a beautiful thing is common and we know what that means when people say it.

2. To say a physical object, created by a person or people is challenging, describing, informing or otherwise making a social or cultural commentary.

These things may not necessarily be beautiful.  They *CAN* be and often are, but that’s not their primary purpose.  Their purpose is to get people to think about culture, relationships between people,  and society.  I tend to think of these things as “Art” and they are the stuff of which “Art pretension” thrives on.  They’re the sort of things that people stroke their chins over and say “hmm, yes” a lot about.

So having defined that for purposes of this post, I want to talk a little about design.

Design is purpose driven.  When you design a building, the building has a function. When you design a restaurant, that restaurant has a function.  The same thing can be said of anything one *designs*, from a catapult to a coffee machine.  You can design a knitting pattern and make a scarf. You can even use design in the process of making art- I map out a design for each egg that I create, but the finished product is not a design project. It’s a piece of art.  However, if I design someone’s kitchen, that’s a design project, no matter how pretty it is.

All of that brings me to a post that appeared yesterday on Dezeen.  Go have a good look. I’ll wait.

When I first saw this, the post had just gone up, and there were no comments to it yet. When I went back this morning, apparently I’m not the only one who wasn’t pleased. But what really bothers me is that the *supporters* of this work don’t seem to get that fundamentally, THIS IS NOT A DESIGN PROJECT. It’s an ART INSTALLATION.

Frankly, I think it’s a pretty good art installation.  I really mean that. I think that as *ART* (definition #2, though it’s not a bad looking object either) it works quite well. It conveys a clear message and provokes thought about the concepts it addresses.  In that sense, it’s very successful.

As a design project, this FAILS, completely.  It’s not *REALLY* a bookshelf.  It’s not. It’s designed to hold very specific books, intended to make a societal and/or cultural statement.  If you put other books on it, it ruins the intent of the artist (yes, I said it cause it’s not a design project and I’m not going to call it one.) So really, its only purpose is to make that statement, and no other. It does not serve *an actual function* beyond making the cultural statement.  The books, even though they’re being held by the shelf are only there *AS PART* of the overall statement.

It’s NOT DESIGN. It’s ART. I don’t think it’s BAD art, either. But It. Is. Not. Design.

Considering the fact that there are innumerable *DESIGNERS* creating oh, I don’t know, actual design projects that could be featured on what is supposed to be a design blog, the fact that Dezeen doesn’t seem to be too clear on what design is/is not and what art is/is not is… well pretty disappointing (yes, I do have a gift for understatement, why do you ask?)

Come on.  Show some damned design work.

Having re-disposed of the monster, exit our hero, stage left.

Wait. That’s not it. Crap.

I am a twitter early adopter. I’ve had my account significantly longer than the (vast, vast) majority of people I know.  For a long time I had one account, a personal account, and since the day it was created, it’s been locked.

Several years later I created another, public account. However the purpose of that account was to write haiku about my cats. No, really, I mean that.  Look up “cathaiku” on twitter. My favorite is the one about the potato.

Several months ago I added another public account, strictly for my DJ stuff, because it was cluttering up my personal account(I DJ- a lot.).

Several DAYS ago, I realized I needed to add a fourth account, also public, in order to interact with the design/architecture community, when they started finding ME and I had no idea what to do about that. So after flailing around for five or six minutes, I created damnedgoodesign (to put the extra D in puts me over the username limit.) as a solution and so far that seems to be working out well.

Okay, so why am I babbling about twitter here now? Because now, more people in the community are finding that account, and if the stormtroopers learn who the jawas sold the droids to that would lead them back…. home. (yes I know this is not an exact quote, it won’t work in this sentence, you geeks.)



Until now most of the people who regularly read this site are people who know me already in one capacity or another. But now there’s all these new people, who have not been subjected to not yet been introduced to me.  It occurs to me I should make (some sort of) introductory post here, despite the age of this blog, in order to facilitate that, since 140 characters can only tell you so much.  The problem is that like most people, I hate doing these kinds of posts because no matter how much you try to make them simply informative, they always sound kind of obnoxious.

As it says on the “who” tab (I think, I haven’t read the thing in I have no idea how long. It could say I’m an astronaut for all I know)…

My name is Avril Korman and I’m a designer. (no not a web designer, for goodness sake.) I can (and have) designed damned near everything.  My favorite things to design are restaurants, hotels, and furniture.  My least favorite things to design are office spaces.  Everything else falls somewhere in between.

I am *not* a decorator, nor am I an architect  (I was going to do that but currently can’t justify the expense and investement in an M*Arch when up to 40% of the profession is out of work. I’ll pass on having more debt, thanks). Just to make it clear, I’m not a writer either, nor do I play one on TV.

My degrees are in interior design,  restoration/historic preservation, and music.  I’ve been published for design(and art, actually) work several times.  This is a much bigger deal to other people than to me.

Before I was a designer I was a professional artist for nine years.  I still create art, because it still helps pay the bills, mostly in the form of carved eggs.  I also take a lot of photos and I’ve been fortunate enough to have other people like them enough to hang them in galleries in NYC, London and Sydney, and occasionally to pay for one or two. One of my photos was even in Architectural Record once, and that makes me giggle a whole lot since the photo isn’t even of architecture. Before anyone asks, I prefer Nikons to Canons and I use a PC and not a mac. (I actually own no apple products at all- my mp3 player is a creativelabs zen xtra I got in 2003. It works fine.)

I’m a born native of the City of New York. As far as I’m concerned that is the single luckiest thing that has ever happened to me, and NYC has always been my greatest passion. Why yes, I have lived elsewhere (many elsewheres, actually) and have no intention of ever doing it again.

I am deeply, deeply introverted, but not shy in the least.  There is a vast difference between these two concepts.

I also like chess and peas.  (but checkers is easier to play WITH peas.)

Anything else, I expect people will learn as time goes on.  So hello, new people.  Welcome to my wacky little corner of the web. Or something.

Oh. I also like Converse all-stars. A lot.



How to start this..

One of the primary reasons (at least in the top two, anyway) I got a Second Life account way back in 2008 was to be able to create designs, that while virtual, could still be used, walked through and (let’s be honest) paid for(this is me, after all- I didn’t suddenly become someone else.).  I wanted to be able to work out potential design problems in 3d space, create walkthroughs and identify trends.  It just took a long time for me to get to the point where I could consistently do that. But this year I seem to have arrived at that place, at least the beginning of it.

There’s a strong architectural community in SL. A lot of RL/SL networking, social interaction, etc.  All of that is a little hard for me.  I’m not exactly the most social individual in the world (stop laughing, all of you. I have a gift of understatement. Shh.)  I’m not much more comfortable at an SL networking party than I am at one in RL.   In SL things can be painfully slow.  The modeling tools are clunky, there’s a steep initial learning curve and most people never make a nickel out of the SL economy, so in that sense I’ve beaten the odds- but it took a long time to get there, and most people wouldn’t bother. On many days I wonder why *I* bother, so I don’t fault anyone else for not wanting to.

But back to Virtuatecture.  See, what virtuatecture ISN’T, is Architecture. I want to make that really, really clear because fundamentally they’re not the same thing. When you remove the laws of physics, problems of sustainability, budget and zoning, but apply other limitations (hello, prim count, primitive manipulation limits and script lag) to how you design/build a thing, that process changes and becomes something else.  It’s all still design process- that doesn’t change, but it’s not Architecture.  Virtuatecture might have some similarities but it’s not the same thing at all, and I’m always mildly shocked when people who design structures in SL call themselves Architects (assuming they’re not architects in meatspace, of course.) Then again, I’m shocked when people who call themselves designers aren’t designers either, but that’s an old rant.

Virtuatecture is the process of creating structures (whatever they may be) in a virtual environment that are going to be used within that environment solely (again, laws of physics will prevent you from porting them out.) I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.  I’ve also been designing a *lot* of furniture lately (I really need to figure out a prototyping solution, seriously.  There’s an ICFF booth calling my name, if I can get that stuff prototyped and con Bethany into manning the booth (you didn’t think it would be me, right?)

Anyway, back to virtuatecture. What’s also interesting, besides the creation/design process of it all, is watching what people want to *buy*.  Witnessing the trends of what people want, what sells and what doesn’t sell is really interesting.  I don’t think I have nearly enough raw data yet to draw realistic or sound conclusions, but that will come in time.  It’s also interesting (maybe) to note that the house *I* live in in SL, is a warehouse loft with a watertower on top.  Even with anything in all the realms of imagination to choose from, I will always go for that.

Since the beginning of this year, I and my building partner (I do the designs, he does the builds) have released one house a week.  For those unfamiliar with time frames in SL, that’s a *brutal* schedule.  Really, truly brutal.  So much so that if we can keep it up for an entire year, we would have more different house designs than almost anyone on the grid, and most people who create houses have been doing it for much longer.  This doesn’t include all the design/build work we do for specialized club venues, which happen at a rate of about 3 per month on average.  It’s a blistering pace.

What we’ve stayed away from (and will continue to stay away from except for one-off custom structures) are building things like enormous castles, which are ubiquitous within the SL environment and frankly bore me to *tears*. My issue with the things other than the tedium of them is about ego and prim limits.  For those who just got confused- on every (full) sim in SL you are allotted 15000 “parts” with which to create objects, called primitives.  The demand for these huge (have I mentioned boring?) castles is staggering.  But the issues begin when you try to FILL them.  There’s no real way to fill the things up without blowing your prim count, so what they are most of the time are big empty warehouses, serving no purpose but to look imposing and impressive. They’re a facade of ego, and nothing more.  I can’t be bothered- I’d rather build houses people live in. They may be much smaller, but you can actually fill them with things and they don’t feel barren.  They’re just like houses (except you know, kitchens don’t translate well, and you have no need for closets.)

So far, Ive found the process to be really good for keeping my design muscles flexible- design process is design process no matter the thing in question.  So here’s some of the houses done so far.

Yes, all the houses have interiors too, don’t be silly.

So that’s part of what I’ve been up to lately.