Friday, February 17, 2006

Design Museum/Rawsthorn comment

Someone commented on my post about Rawsthorn being fired from the Design Museum, it raises issues worth going into in another post - not that the comment is worth much in itself, no wonder they stayed anon:

Anonymous said:

"Ah there's nothing like the old boys network to get rid of a strong and challenging woman is there?"

It didn't require a network operation, Conran started the Design Museum and put in millions. He seems to have lent over backwards to try to give her a chance (and was one of those who chose her in the first place), but she was, in her own words, too "stroppy" and "stubborn" and, I would say, pig-headed to see sense and try to work with others instead of aggressively imposing her views, cf:

"Before he left, Christopher Frayling tried to negotiate an agreement that would defuse tension with the trustees, who saw themselves deprived of a role in the museum's affairs. As one eyewitness said: 'Meetings had turned into a monologue at which trustees sat listening to Alice talking about her achievements, and refusing to discuss her exhibitions programme.',11710,1318283,00.html

"What's the matter men - afraid she might take your fetishised boys toys away in favour of something more relevant to a greater number of people today's world?"

This "feminist" attack ignores the facts; it has nothing to do with "fetishised boys toys". Conran made his first fortune with furniture and household goods and decoration - hardly "boys toys". Few boys enjoy shopping for furniture, cf:

"They [Habitat] have an outlet in Ireland located in Dublin's prime shopping district near Stephen's Green, and its most frequent browsers are aggressive, fashionably dressed young women with black-rimmed glasses and blonde highlights, and timid, pleasant men with a slightly hunted expression that says "Thousands of generations of racial memory of hunting, living and dying have failed to prepare me for the decisions that seem to be important to me now."

Many women in the 60s an 70s were grateful to Conran for making good design affordable:

"Conran's guiding principle was simple: Create intelligently designed products for as large an audience as possible at a price just about anyone could afford. He built a highly successful retail chain and design consultancy on that idea. I was just as impressed with Conran himself when I interviewed him for a story for Women's Wear Daily. [Not exactly a "boys"magazine]"

Dyson was most opposed to Rawsthorn's changes and resigned. Did he make "boys toys" ? Hardly. Is he a "dinosaur", and an "out-of-touch patriarch"? - hardly. Here's a recent review of one of his vacuum cleaners - from "Hilary Magazine, North America's Most Popular Online Women's Magazine Since 1995", which is full of praise and makes clear his status as a world-class designer:

"We may not blame you if you told us you'd never thought about putting your vacuum on display. We would, however, blame you if you owned a Dyson vacuum and you'd never considered it. The question is not whether this is the best designed vaccum ever made, but whether it is the best designed appliance bar none. And it just may be!
In fact, I think we're in love. With a vacuum, you say? But wait until you hear about these vacuums! Not only are they the most modern and funky design you'll find on just about any appliance, but they suck up dirt and dust like there's no tomorrow!

For their eye-grabbing designs, Dyson has received numerous awards. For technological innovation, they won such awards as the Industrial Design Prize of America, Chicago Athenaeum Good Design Prize, the European Design Prize, the Super Good of the Year (Japan), and the L'Etoile de l'Observeur du Design (France). They were even cited as one of Time magazine's "Coolest Inventions". Now, how cool is that!

Here is some more praise from women:

"My new neighbour said, "Hmmm, let me loan you my Dyson, that will sort it." She brought it over. I revacuumed my floors. The canister filled to the topand the gaps were empty in the floor boards. OOOOOOerrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!! Suddenly, we noticed the abscence of a smell that we had not noticed before its absence. Right, that was it, we HAD to have a Dyson.

The instructions are pretty dummy proof too as this blonde bimbo easily understood the pictures. The Dyson manuals are all pictorial in colour with BIG pictures. No jargon whatsoever!"

Cf.: "After cleaning a friend's house for her after she had her baby and using her brand new Dyson, I was hooked, it had to be a Dyson for me as well." lily7star

So this attempt to present Conran and Dyson as "patriarchs" concerned only with "toys for the boys" is patently absurd.


"Alice may be a stubborn and focussed character, but the brief she was given on appointment was to raise the profile of the museum. She has achevied this and more, with her dignity in tact and should be congratulated on standing up against a few dinosaurs who really just want to play happy families with the Ken and Tony.

Surely the visitors should be the people who decide on whether her Directorship was successful, and it looks as though they're all in favour."

Of course one could "raise the profile" by focusing on celebs' bedrooms, and doubtless this would bring in more visitors. Anon sounds like the kind of person who would approve the news that the London Planeterium is going to close down and become another place for celeb worship. The point is not just to get more visitors, but to get more visitors for serious design, linked to the manufacturing process (the original aim of the museum as set up by Conran), not flower-arranging or trendy shoes.

"God forbid the Design museum returns to its former archaic engingeering driven boys school."

There's nothing "archaic" about engineering; the kind of design it should focus on is that done by Jonathon Ive, yes, a male, but designing the kind of engineering which won him the prize of designer of the year recently (Rawsthorn one of the judges) for his work with Apple. The Macs and ipods designed by him are widely used by females, not just by boys. Conran and Dyson would be happy with a focus on this kind of product - so should any intelligent female. The point is not just to increase numbers - an exhibition of porn mags would do that - but to increase the number of visitors coming for design like Ive's. This might even lead to more people like him (a Brit) working here and not in America.


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