I went to a lecture with Ellen Lupton at PNCA in Portland (great space, by the way). Lupton is a star designer and she was quite entertaining to listen to. Besides some funny insights on the perils of the design of women bras, toasters and a not-so-convincing case for luggage sans wheels, Lupton focused her talk on the idea of the DIY revolution (the subject of her latest book). This is not different from the user-generated content movement that we’ve examined over the last two quarters (through theory in the UGC class, and through practice in digital storytelling class).


Ellen Lupton spoke of the accessibility of tools. Tools are getting cheaper and easier to use, so everyone can do what designers do in their daily lives — sound familiar?? And jolly Lupton is embracing this revolution, instead of distancing herself and trying to create the an elitist wall for designers to protect their careers, she decided to bring the principles of design to the ‘masses’ by writing books that distilled ‘Design’ for the rest of us. She sees design as something commonly embedded in our everyday life, hence her talk addressed quandaries such as the ideal number of pillows on hotel beds.

This all caused some stir in the audience (mostly made up of aspiring graphic designers who are probably investing a lot of money in higher education). So why, oh why, is Lupton embracing the DIY revolution?

She thinks that the more the public knows about the design, the better design they will demand. She compared it to when people know how to cook or how to play an instrument, they know more about food and music, and in turn not only will consume more food/music but they will consume better food/music. This is an interesting perspective on DIY (or UGC), could it be that the more people know and experience the making of media/information/entertainment the more they will demand of it?

[PS. Lupton wrote her book as part of a class project at MICA]

-posted by Adri