design for all ::. 101

we were designers. friends even, yeah, some of us were. we walked on campus together as though we were something. but history was in the making. we quickly became then the most well recognized class in the school’s history leaving our mark with our names inscribed on the sterile halls of a brand new facility. i believe it’s still there. we probably were the last class of a certain mold. hours of art history and theory, aesthetics and beauty, form and function. lectures. critiques. deconstruction. integration. of course we also fulfilled our core requirement studies in humanities, science, and english. but we were painters, sculptors, filmmakers, architects, artists – designers. we were a new breed, traditionally trained in the old school and part of the forging of a new era of design. the swell of the digital age arrived in our time. we helped bring about a shift in the visual landsape as well as in the economy. now design is everywhere and everything. thanks to target there’s a new manifesto declaring design for all. you prolly have seen the commercials.

make it better, more fun, more exciting, easier. make it fly, make it soar, let it take your breath away. that’s what good design is all about. transforming the ordinary into something better….maybe even something extraordinary.

now i’m still not sure how i feel about target corp and their campaign but they sure merchandise some pretty nice things and have made some good investments like acquiring two of my choice designers from way back, mossimo and mizrahi. michael graves is another story. i really like that they carry method products. i’ll shop at target over that bully walmart anyday. and don’t even let me start about the injustices in that company.
i have been spending a lot of time recently thinking about art, design, society. my background consists of fine arts, landscape architecture, and urban planning all of which i’ve integrated under design. these things deeply influence my design process. i guess i’m part of what they call the cultural creatives. all this said gives reason to why i’m so wildly interested in the gates in central park, nyc by christo and jean-claude

the gates.central park.nyc :: 2.26.05
i’m posting about all this (and probably moreso…read on) because i think it’s time to understand the realm of art, design and things that are misunderstood like the gates and its place in our lives. i was talking with a student over the weekend who shared his dislike of modern art. he, like many don’t like modern art because it doesn’t make sense to them. i understand that. but many believe that what doesn’t make sense of course is not worth considering.

when i was on the administration at a new local christian college we had a riff with some older students over the fine art prints that were being chosen to be displayed in the buildings. they wanted real “christian art” over reproductional prints of impressionists and other modern painters like, wassily kandinsky, who was deeply interested in spirituality as reflected so in his works. you see, “christian art” are prints from well known nice christian folk whose works of ‘light’ you can find in a jesus books and gift stop or at your upper-middle class malls.

here’s my take on the gates : : they’re supposed to be personally experienced. all 7,500 16-feet high gates are to be taken as a single piece like the multiple strokes in a painting. now the gates are a gift to the city, entirely self-funded by the artists themselves. it is a greatly profound work and a beautiful extravagant gift to the city and to the world. its bright colored fabrics are outspoken in this cold season as they meander throughout the park. they demonstrate the veins of the park as throngs of people from all over the world, from all walks of life, pass through them like lifeblood. you can spend time thinking about that visual if you dare. jean-claude believes that the world is his canvas. he has brought his art out from the privacy of a studio or a museum to the outside. that’s a shift that we are experiencing not just in the art of the 21st century but in all of life. we need to see that we are all a part of life in this world, in this city. this artpiece is helping to create community. as christians our lives are his handiwork. he will build his church. we are failing to be lovely and accesible. we fail to be extravagant and even flashy. we fail to give to the world. we fail to annoint the head and feet of Christ and do a beautiful thing unto him.

to me design is not just about selling something which i feel many do focus on, particularly in christian retail. sure design can be commercially viable. heck i need to pay the bills. this is my design manifesto: good design is thorough and lasting. it serves many purposes and many people. it can be flashy or even unrealized but it ought to integrate all of life to serve all of life. in a sense, we all need to be designers.

my dilemma — christian marketing and retail ::
the tNIV is a new translation of the Bible. the big news is that they’ll be advertising in rolling stone magazine. we gotta realize that the bible business is a huge industry. there’s a fine line in trying to get authentic interpretation and make it accessible. so what is it all for anyways?

in addition to that, there have been these alteratives to the Bible that i’ve mentioned before targeted to teenage girls and boys. try bible ‘zines – revolve published by thomas nelson using the new century translation. “It’s the complete New Testament, but it looks just like a fashion magazine!” and refuel, an extreme adrenaline packed version for the fellas.

here’s something that’s got me stumped. my boy toddhiestand, pastor at the well pointed this out to me. you can prolly tell by now that i have a bit of distaste towards christian retail and marketing. this one just…alright i’ll stop now. get yourself a — die saved bracelets. i’m sure these people have good intentions but it just does sit well with me here especially because of what LIVESTRONG stood for. plus enough copycats. but heck, i can’t even walk in a jesus bookstore without feeling vertigo.

however, all these things do serve a place in helping people get acquainted with scripture or more perhaps with popular christian culture but i’m not so sure about faith. i’m not even sure about goodness and excellence there. many of these products don’t help christians think for themselves. many are a cheap subsitute for straight-up discipleship. often they compartmentalize life. it doesn’t ease my soul the fact that there’s a huge money-making industry behind it all.

so why not visit the gates? it is good — design for all.

i promised that i would mention realiteen magazine. it’s an effort put forth by a faithful reader, munjong, for girls. (well uh…ummm…boys can read it too…) it’s just getting ready for take-off. well check it out. suscribe for a free trial issue. talk amongst yourselves.


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[american born chinese pastor]
seeks to be that third place for those who are american born chinese [abc] in ministry.
here we may explore issues unique to the chinese church and doing ministry in that context
expand the intersection of asian american culture and christian faith
or simply expose what goes on in the mind of this abcpastor

this may be a bit ambitious or even naiive but i do hope that through the posts we can bring together different faith communities, passions for the advancement of the Gospel and the equipping of the body of Christ.

if you are an abc pastor or have any suggestions or would like to contribute to make this space evolve, just comment.

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