For several years I have had the pleasure to participate in the jury deliberations of various competitions in which architects, designers and artists presented their works. And for me, each time it is an inspiring journey into the unknown.
I never quite know what I can expect from any specific competition, and whether someone's project or artistic statement will deeply touch my soul.
The last competition in which I was a jury member: FutureNow organised by Tubądzin, was born spontaneously out of the current situation in the world. The participants were asked to answer the question of how our needs, the space around us, design, and thus the realisations would change as a result of the pandemic.
The first stage is behind us. The jury issued a verdict, and as always it is based on the opinion of several independent people looking at the works from different perspectives. We are very different, after all, in terms of profession, practice, experience, sensitivity, and we are connected by work, the task set before us and the willingness to notice what at first glance seems easy, but is in fact very responsible and difficult − the meaning and depth of someone’s creative expression.
So it is always the choice of the majority and as such it will always arouse extreme emotions, various discussions and the outcome will be assessed by the participants and other people.
My reflections after the first stage may serve as guidelines for other competition tasks, or maybe they will bring water to the mill, I don’t know. I know that they are driven by experience and appreciation of all those who consciously risk being judged by others. The vision, message, imagination, way of presenting the work are of course of key importance, but we must bear in mind the subject of the competition as it imposes a certain framework on us. And although in the case of this specific FutureNow topic − I could quote the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their own thoughts”, let’s not forget that designing space and functional objects is to respond to the specific needs of the customer.
In the case of a competition, it is its topic. When assessing works, I am not satisfied with the message which consists of: fantasy, crossing the boundaries set by paper, pencil or graphic program, effective selling of the topic. I want the designer to convince me with his or her in-depth analysis of the problem, even if it’s unrealistic at a given time, knowledge, or simply design awareness.
Of course, in response to my ‘but’… someone may say − the future is a fantasy, it’s something unobvious, maybe you just don’t have enough imagination?
I will answer, it is possible, but as a designer, never underestimate the recipient, the consumer, and do not hide the lack of analysis of the topic, knowledge of technological possibilities, etc. under the guise of being surprised by vision or form.
The road to surprise must lead through skills, knowledge, to conscious rejection supported by experience. I think you can best see it in art.