Photo c/o Cyprian Estrada

An earlier version of this article was incorrectly published with photos from another Supercrawl fashion show. The Sil apologizes for any confusion this may have caused. 

By Emily O'Rourke, Contributor

What first launched as a makeshift runway along a James Street North sidewalk has grown into a crowd favourite at Supercrawl. 

Supercrawl’s Fashion Zone has grown significantly over the years, officially becoming a dedicated part of the festival in 2014. Among the Fashion Zone’s team of designers, organizers and passionate creatives, co-owners of the Eye of Faith, Aaron Duarte and Paul Heaton, stand out.

Established in 2011 by Duarte and Heaton, the Eye of Faith is a multifaceted brand, focusing on promoting individuality and expression through the exploration of the “past, fusing into the present to help shape the future.” Initially purveying high quality unique vintage finds, the brand has since expanded into original one-of-a-kind garments created using primarily vintage textiles and materials. 

Photo c/o Cyprian Estrada

For the past five years, Duarte and Heaton have played a significant role in organizing Supercrawl’s fashion zone. As designers first, the pair first took over the fashion zone in 2015 with their handmade collection, “Hollywood Babylon”. Since, they’ve taken four different shows to the stage. Among them was Tarot, their 2016 collection which included a dress made from two decks of the classic Raider-Waite cards, attached with a metal chain link. Duarte and Heaton are also involved in every single aspect of their show, from stage managing, sound mixing, modeling and MCing. 

“Putting on a fashion show is a huge task, and so many people go into making these shows, so the fact that it continues to grow truly shows how important fashion in all its forms is beloved in our city,” said Duarte.

Photo c/o Cyprian Estrada

When they’re not running their own shows, the duo sit on the fashion committee where they oversee applications and actively seek out new talent for the shows to ensure the programming is relevant to the fabric of the Hamilton fashion scene. All programming is local and aims to showcase diversity in all its forms, never being afraid to push the envelope.

“Supercrawl is the epitome of fashion events in the city, hands down,” said Duarte. “For us designers, it is the equivalent to any major fashion week and designers work for months to conceive and create collections specifically for the festival. We are striving to help get [designers’] full vision off the ground however we can, really.”

“It is also a great jumpstart for new designers to get their name out to the public, who in turn come out to see the shows and find their next new favourite local designer, and every year, there are more and more,” said Duarte. 

The pair were busy this year, with Heaton managing the stage while walking as a model in three local designers’ shows, including Vintage Soul Geek, Thrifty Designer and Blackbird Studios. Duarte took on the MC role once again, while coordinating music and mixing sound for all shows throughout the weekend. 

Photo c/o Mike Skarvinko

As a staple weekend in the city comes to a close, Duarte shares that he wishes Supercrawl was every weekend. On what’s next, Duarte hopes to see more youth talent, avant-garde work and luxury designs. 

“[Supercrawl] is the one weekend of the year that brings so many facets of our city together under one umbrella. It is primarily a celebration of the talent and vitality of the City of Hamilton,” said Duarte. “As artists, it is an important platform to showcase our work to a large audience which only continues to grow every year. It’s definitely a weekend that always seems to recharge the city’s unique energy”.

 

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Come Together

Kyle West

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This photography series was inspired by comparing classic symbolism of unity and strength with consideration to the themes of Sex and the Steel City. Across the world and throughout many diverse culture, the symbol of holding hands can be seen to communicate intimacy or a close relationship.

Taking this symbol and empowering it through strong vertical compositional choices lend the viewer to perceive these couples and their love as prevailing. The stylistic choices are a nod towards the strength and monumentality of the landscape work of Ansel Adams and the influential portraiture of Platon. Ultimately, Come Together is a story of love, unity and partnership and my best ability to document this.

Kyle West is a Hamilton-based photographer. He is in his final year of art history at McMaster University and is currently the Photo Editor for the Silhouette. West has developed a particular interest in portraiture over the years, often times turning to digital and film photography to capture his subjects in a beautiful light. From perfectly timed scenes of bustling city streets on film to carefully composed landscapes and journalistic endeavours, West also utilizes his photography as a means for storytelling.


Shower Scene

Erin Nantais

This digital drawing entitled “Shower Scene” explores ideas and themes of intimacy that are typically uncomfortable for individuals to openly discuss.

Sex and sexuality are often unnecessarily forbidden topics that need to be reimagined as natural and normal.

Through this piece, sexuality is explored and depicted as natural, normal and familiar.

Simple lines and colours along with a minimalistic look are used to enhance the idea of intimacy as a normal and acceptable human experience.

Erin Nantais is a fourth year multimedia student at McMaster University. She typically works with photography and graphic design. Her personal style of work emphasizes strong lines and simple colour schemes to create a distinctive digital feel. Creative portraiture and animal photography are main sources of inspiration for most of Nantais’ work. Nantais has always been interested in art and photography and through her work she’s found a digital style that incorporates elements of both.


1st piece: Naturally Grown (Digital print, series of 20)

2nd piece: The healing sex (Digital print series of 2)

Jet

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="221" gal_title="SATSC Jet"]

 

Jet’s artistic process relies heavily on research into my chosen focus. It starts with the inquiry: “I want to understand more about…” as they then experiment with different mediums until they find the right material and presentation of their idea. Visualization is the key to their process where they push the boundaries of my idea and test as many possibilities as they can. When the piece is ready for an audience, Jet prefers the audience takes part in the outcome of the work itself.

Jet works mainly with performance, video, sculpture, photography and painting. They try not to ever limit myself to one medium. Jet encounters ideas that seem to float in the air and works with them, listens to them, becomes them and finds the best method to allow the work to exist in harmony with the audience.

Jet’s practice often explores the human body in all of its physical and ethereal elements. Throughout their life they have always made space for themselves to imagine and work out complex issues. This gives them the head space to create and transform what is not yet physical into a tangible piece.  

Jet is a  multidisciplinary artist who emigrated from Mexico in 2009. They grew up feeling that they didn’t always belong. Social norms, family, friends, peers, the state, and especially an oppressive culture of dominance, sought to limit the creativity of their soul. Now their work reflects a rebirth of expression, and the power of the artist’s will to transform the unseen beauty that surrounds them.


Eviscerate

Coercion

Cait Gautron

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="225" gal_title="SATSC Cait Gautron"]

In her first piece, Eviscerate (3016), in using fruit to mirror anatomy Cait Gautron was seeking to  question ideas of ripeness and primacy in media surrounding sex. Shadowing the piece are ideas of destruction and decay. With these characteristics she playfully seeks to evoke viscera while using approximate substitutes to create a surreal and dreamlike atmosphere.

Coercion (2018), oil on canvas. With this work, Gautron seeks to raise issues around social and institutional factors which motivate consent and the fear felt by participants who may unknowingly fall in to the role of perpetrator or victim.

In oil paints Gautron seeks to explore the delicate balance between desire and disgust, growth and decay, inherit in human anatomy. Raised by an artist mother, the majority of her early artistic education came from exploring the galleries and museums of Europe in her early teens.  In that time she became enamoured with the lustre of Vermeer’s still lifes and the contortion of Schielle’s portraits. Currently enrolled in her second year of McMaster University’s studio arts program, Gautron has just began to show her work around Hamilton and Ontario.


or nothing at all.

Kayla Da Silva

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="227" gal_title="SATSC Kaylita"]

or nothing at all.

 

It’s 11:07 am.

You check your phone.

 

For a moment 

you can’t breathe 

and then breathing 

happens all at once. 

 

Too fast. Too frequent.

Depression lingers 

in the depths of your mind 

and anxiety holds 

you by the throat. 

 

_

It’s 9:27 pm.

You ask them to choose you,

but they show you

they never will.

Over and over again.

 

You knew all along 

this was going 

to happen. 

The red flags 

waved furiously

but they were in 

your blind spot.

 

_

Now.

You are accompanied 

by your old friend, 

insomnia. 

You are enveloped

with exhaustion,

and gently embraced

by the solace of truth.

 

Sometimes 

you have to choose if 

you want to pick 

the dandelion 

or the rose 

or nothing at all.



The artwork accompanied by the poetry is meant as a reflection of relationships that are emotionally damaging. More times than never, an individual in the relationship may not be aware of how complicated the situations were until leaving them.

The series is meant to highlight the mental turmoil an individual can experience when the pattern of behaviours from a partner negatively impacts their state of mind. When being in a complicated relationship, it can often lead to an internal conflict when they are in-love with their partner.

The difficult question is; how long can one hold on to what appears to be a rose when the thorns cause trauma? A partner should never put you in a position where you need to routinely put your wellbeing at risk.

Kayla Da Silva, also known as Kaylita, is a creative and a designer. She has found her poetry to be a suitable companion to the visuals she creates. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in multimedia and communications from McMaster University and currently resides in Hamilton, Ontario working full-time as a junior graphic designer.

Instagram: @iamkaylita


Food/Fuck

Matty Flader

CW: Disordered eating

For me, sex and food have always had their limbs awkwardly intermingled (in a no eye contact Grindr hookup sort of way). I know what you’re thinking: “how deep, bananas look like dicks and I’m entirely enthused and kind of turned on.” Yet, the story of this photograph is really one of inner turmoil, anguish and ultimately resistance. The food/fuck correlation, as I call it, has lingered like an unwanted houseguest in my head for quite some time now. It goes something like this: the less sex I’m having the less I feel I’m allowed to eat. In times of plentiful or at least grandiose sexual conquest, I can take a breath… or, a bite I guess. The logic is as desperate as it is simple. If I’m not getting laid, I better stop snacking and start looking like a snack. The food/fuck correlation not only problematically frames sex as some prize for me to win, it also leads me through disorderly cycles of eating. It’s all too easy for the things I did or didn’t eat to change my self-perceived body image.

This self portrait is meant to picture the undying torment food puts me through. Putting a voice to this struggle challenges the hegemonic belief that men, those wonderful, tenacious beasts, could never develop eating disorders. The photo challenges the societally constructed ideal of a man who is too tough to feel pain. Inability to conform to this ideal can strip one of his own masculinity. As men the borders of our gendered and sexual identities are constantly under scrutiny by our peers. For most, it’s far easier to conform by reproducing masculinity however they see possible. As a result, men are taught that being normal means never being vulnerable. Expressions of masculine insecurity like my food/fuck anxiety are constantly pushed to the margins of society. I say fuck that. Through this photo I proudly shout: I am a man, I have feelings, sometimes I feel insecure, but here I am. And hey, I bet you’d still fuck me.

Matty Flader is an emerging artist based in Hamilton, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia. He takes an interdisciplinary approach to art projects, with a specialization in portrait photography. Flader’s work concerns a broad range of topics, including gender performance, eating abnormality and responses to current events. He often challenges difficult ideas through a humourous lens in attempt to bring attention to the absurdity of this world.

Instagram: @matt_der


 

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Photo C/O Foreign Waves International

By Anastasia Gaykalova

The Silhouette sat down with the creative mind behind Zander, Matthew Alexander, and Foreign Waves International’s designer duo, Michael St. Jean and Kadeem Jarrett, during Supercrawl weekend to talk about the Hamilton-based streetwear brands’ take on street fashion, their creative process and friendly competition.

Photo C/O Samuel Letnik and Matthew Alexander

 

The Sil: How would you describe your brand in three words?

Jarrett: Wavy. Free. Real.

Alexander: Efficient. Athletic. Useful.

 

The Sil: Why did you start designing?

St. Jean: We wanted to create a brand that everyone around the world can rock and be represented, hence the name Foreign Waves International.

Jarrett: We printed a whole bunch of t-shirts, because we came up with a name and people loved it, and we said ‘let’s go full throttle’ and it’s been three years rocking and we’ve done a lot within the three years and we’re proud.

Alexander: I was really into art and just being artistic, touching as many mediums as possible: painting, photography [and] graphic design. I was getting into graphic design and slowly realized that it is not the career path that I necessarily wanted to take, and clothing ended up being it…I love clothing and it just fell into my life with the combination of the different things I was into.

 

The Sil: What is your creative process when designing?

St. Jean: That’s a hard thing to think of still…Our creative process is usually we see something and we think ‘yo, what can we do differently, what can we do to change it, how can we make it better’…And then we talk about our design with each other and decide what will work better, what colour scheme we’re going to use. Sometimes we go to places like [Supercrawl], this would be an example [of] where we gain inspiration.

Alexander: It’s a lot of internal brainstorming, just thinking out concepts in my head whenever I get influenced by certain things. Drawing out influence from everything and anything I possibly can. It could be anything from other designers or something a person says to interactions with my friends.

 

The Sil: Do either of you draw inspiration from other brands? If so, which and why?

Jarrett: In the beginning, yeah, but now it is more what we feel, what comes from our hearts. That’s what designs are based off of. But in the beginning, it’s just [like how] musicians look up to one musician, want to sound like them. And then they establish their own sounds.

St. Jean: Nike’s a big one, New Regime.

Jarrett: Shout-out to New Regime.

Alexander: I guess, when I first started getting into clothing and streetwear, the list of brands I would’ve listed then is completely different from now. Now I’m more into high fashion designer brands. I just feel like the designs and the materials and the backstory of the different brands and concepts are a lot more thought out. Few brands I could list now that I’m really into would probably be…Ader Error, Undercover, Palace, which is more on a streetwear, skatewear level.

 

The Sil: What makes a good fashion show?

Jarrett: When everything is running smoothly, [when] music [and] designs are on point.

St. Jean: I think there’s got to be a wild factor.

Jarrett: Exactly, in our day and age everyone does a fashion show. When you’re on a runway, add a little bit of something, add a little bit of art, add performances, add anything like that, you know…Be as free as you can. That’s what the brand represents. Be you and embrace what you wear every single day.

Alexander: I think outfits, for sure. I know for myself, I really like to add something more. [W]ith our latest fashion show we had more theatrics going on. It’s more than just outfits and models walking down a runway. It was like an actual show.

 

The Sil: What’s more important, expressing yourself or catering to an audience?

St. Jean: I think you have to have a mix of both. We want to express ourselves, but we want to make sure we are catering to the audience as well. So, we want to be like ‘I really like this, but I want to make sure my people are going to like it too’.

Alexander: I think, especially in terms of creative level, expressing yourself matters most at the end of the day. Where it gets tricky is on the business level of things, where, yeah, you do have to make money and you have to invest a lot of time, effort and money into certain projects, so you do have to cater to the audience. So I like to find a little bit of both.

 

The Sil: What are some challenges of the fashion industry and how to best deal with them?

St. Jean: One big thing is manufacturers. We’re a very small brand, so when it comes to manufacturing clothing, they want big orders, like you know, a hundred pieces, two hundred pieces. We’re very small, very local, so we don’t order that much. That’s why our clothes are very limited…So, it kind of leaves a little bit of exclusivity to our brand as well.

Alexander: I guess a big one right now would be finances. I know for me and my team, we have a lot of ideas and projects that we like to do, but it’s a hurdle we have to cross where we can’t financially make it happen. And that’s just a process of continuing to work and grow as a brand and building those resources in order to make those projects happen.

 

The Sil: What does street style mean to you?

St. Jean: Expressing yourself.

Jarrett: Yeah, exactly, expressing yourself. Streetwear is growing now. It used to be small brands like Stussy, Primitive, but now,  big time designers are making streetwear. Like, Gucci, and stuff, they’re all making hoodies with “Gucci” on it, and t-shirts and stuff. So, streetwear is literally taking over the world, and everyone loves streetwear.

Alexander: I love street style. Every single day I think of an outfit and I just love putting together clothes and showcasing how I’m feeling that day with the colour palettes and the theme of certain pieces I’m wearing… Street style is growing and it’s awesome to see other people getting more and more into it… especially in Hamilton.

 

The Sil: Since both brands share a similar style, do you consider each other competitors?

St. Jean: For us, personally, we don’t look at things as competition because we want to see everybody succeed, so we actually know Zander personally from showing support to each other. So, when we’ve done pop-ups, they’re there and when they’ve done pop-ups, we’re there. And we promote each other, so we don’t look at it as competition. We look at it more as a community and we should all work together.

Alexander: Yeah, I 100 per cent agree. I guess, back in the day when streetwear brands weren’t as many, maybe like 6 to 7 years ago, it would’ve been on a more competitive level, but as of right now, I think brands that are succeeding and growing together as a community. If everyone’s doing well, that only makes the community better at the end of the day.

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While there are a sea of sassy enamel pin, patches, and other “flair” artists selling their designs on Instagram, there are few designers that so overtly capture the independent, tongue-in-cheek attitude like No Fun Press.

Toronto-based graphic designer, photographer and artist Reilly Hodgson is the creator of the publishing company. A distaste for hyper-motivational branding, combined with a love for DIY punk and hip-hop sensibilities inspires his iconic designs.

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“I don’t have time for that shit. I lived in Vancouver, and that Lululemon attitude is not for me. I don’t need 50 inspirational phrases on a tote bag. That’s not real life,” said Hodgson.

No Fun Press has been proudly sporting their bad attitude since 2011. Since then, the brand has become one of the prominent makers of pins, patches and threads, famously specializing in their unique brand of pessimism. Their products ship globally, and have been worn by the likes of Atlanta rapper Killer Mike and YouTube celebrity Pewdiepie.

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Hodgson grew up collecting pins and patches, while also learning to make his own punk rock band t-shirts, eventually moving on to zines, posters and accessories.

Hodgson kickstarted No Fun with the Ontario government’s “Summer Company” grant, which helps students between ages 15 and 29 start their own company. He originally planned to use the money to fund Blood of the Young Zine, a publication he had ongoing with friend and fellow artist Dimitri Karakostas.

“I was planning to just funnel that in the publishing thing I was already doing but they [said] it had to be a new thing. So I [thought], ‘I’m going to do the same thing but under a different name. There was stuff I wanted to make that just wasn’t on brand for [Blood of the Young]…  between that money and that last bit of OSAP… the grant let me establish a thing, and then the [last bit of] OSAP was just like, ‘fingers crossed, this is make [it] or break [it].’ And I didn’t break.”

Between No Fun Press, and the work in his collaborative zine project, Hodgson decided to drop out of OCAD University’s printmaking program to focus on these projects, spending his last $1,000 of OSAP money on an order of blank t-shirts.

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Despite the well-curated branding associated with the press company, the name itself was started as just a working title for the summer grant program.

“I’m more of a creative person than a planner, and they wanted all of this paperwork and these official business plans and shit because they’re putting up real money. They obviously want a real plan,” explained Hodgson.

“I’d written ‘No Fun’ on the top of the page because it was awful to do, and I didn’t have a set title yet because I was still trying to figure out if I could roll it into the other thing, and by the time I time I submitted it, [the name] seemed right.”

Since then, the design has been appropriated by other hustling 20-somethings looking for an outward expression of the realities of the school, work, side-hustle life style. Hodgson’s plain text designs include ‘Anti-You’ shirts and beanies, as well an exam seasonal favorite: the ‘Stress’ t-shirt.

For many people, their first encounter with the No Fun starts in the streets of their hometowns.

In Hamilton, Toronto and cities worldwide, an attentive eye can spot the occasional No Fun sticker on street signs and local landmarks. Even the walk to Hodgson’s Parkdale studio apartment in Toronto was littered with the brand’s stickers.

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“I grew up doing grafs when I was younger, and so my ideas for marketing come from graffiti… I’m just going to put it everywhere. It’s sort of a work ethic thing too… As a graffiti writer you understand the only way to get your name out is to just go and do it and so I have the same kind of attitude running a business, where if I want to put my name out I just have to go out and do it, because no one is going to do it for me,” said Hodgson.

“[During] the first three years, and even now, anytime I do pop-ups in the city, I’ll get people who’ve never seen the products before, but they come through and they’re like, ‘oh those stickers... could I get some?’”

A hands on approach and small-scale of the project has had its drawbacks. Like many graphic designers and apparel makers, Hodgson has also been the victim of corporate bootlegging.

His ‘Anti-You’ slogan has gained more traction than the No Fun name because of the sheer amount of rip-offs. It started with small online Etsy stores that Hodgson said was easy to take down.

The same could not be done once Walmart and Urban Outfitters stole the design.

“Urban Outfitters, Zara and Walmart… the game is just ‘we see this is cool, we’re going to rip it off. We will have made thousands of dollars before they even realize and if they want to sue we’ll bury them in legal fees.”

Unsurprised, but also not discouraged, Hodgson returns his attention to his newly released Fall/Winter collection of designs, which includes “never satisfied”,  “born to lurk, forced to work”, “praying for your mother because she’s sinfully ugly” and a No Fun Magic 8 Ball keychain. All the while, Hodgson maintains a close relationship with fellow artists and designers and is currently featuring patch design by Toronto tattoo artist Brandon Ing.

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On the side, he still works on his professional photography, which he has been showing in local exhibits since 2008.

This year, he has shown at the Northern Contemporary art gallery in his own neighborhood, and is preparing to show more of his work in December.

“I’ve sort of known since I was kid that I wanted to work for myself. If I can pay the rent and make something, than I’m happy,” said Hodgson.

“Is this really negative shit going to pay my bills forever? Maybe. Considering the state of the world maybe it would. But is this going to be what I want to do forever? No. Not necessarily. I’ve been doing this for five years, before I did this I was paying the bills doing photo work.”

While the success of No Fun Press is not looking to slow down anytime soon, the message of the pessimistic accessory and apparel brand embodies Hodgson’s work ethic and commitment to the hardships of a young artist lifestyle. No Fun could continue to flourish as a generation embraces a similar lifestyle, but if one thing is obvious about Hodgson’s work, it’s that he isn’t afraid of taking another leap of faith when the time is right.

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He certainly isn’t letting his success get in the way of a healthy dose of pessimism.

“You do these projects because you like them, not because you expect them to pan out. Not every idea pans out; not every idea is good. I just turned 29, I’ve been doing projects up until then, and every one of them pretty much flopped so [this] is just a surprise. A nice surprise.”

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Every aspect of our world is designed in one way or another. From the appliances in our kitchens to the clothes on our backs, every switch and button has been meticulously considered and executed. Design — whether it be in buildings, laptops or can openers — weave through the fabric of our lives.

But things have changed. Today, we live in a throwaway society. We create and consume in abundance, forgoing detail for convenience. The mass production of virtually every product we use has fuelled a capitalist society that cares little for how things are made, only for how much revenue they garner. We gravitate towards products that give us more. The bigger, the better. The more functions, the better. The more we can afford to buy, the better. Gone are the days where good design, rather than cheap design, took centre stage in blueprints and on drawing boards.

In the world of design, there are few who have created as lasting an impact as Dieter Rams. Widely considered as one of the most influential designers of all time, and one of my personal idols, Rams is a visionary like no other. Nearly every product design created by him continues to be considered a classic today. In a society that is in a perpetual state of flux as a result of cultural and technological developments, that’s staying power.

lifestyle_less2

From an early age, Rams was strongly influenced by his grandfather’s role as a carpenter. After training as an architect in Germany in the early 1950s, Rams was recruited by the German electrical products company, Braun, in 1955. Follow the death of Erwin and Artur Braun’s father, Rams was tasked with modernizing the interiors of a company that continued to launch revolutionary products for households across the globe.

Soon, Rams became a star student of the Ulm School of Design and quickly became involved in product design at Braun. Due to his incomparable talent and eye for innovation, he was appointed as the head of design of Braun from 1961 to 1995. Along with the rest of his design team, Dieter Rams became the man responsible for many of the greatest domestic electrical products of the twentieth century.

Braun asserted itself as a leading consumer products company under the expert guidance of Rams. However, in the late 1970s, the designer became increasingly perturbed by the state of the world around him. He began to see his surroundings as “an impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noises.” Conscious that he was a prominent contributor to that world, he asked himself: is my design good design? He did not want to thoughtlessly feed into a world that was turning design into nothing more than dollar signs. To him, that was dishonest and irresponsible.

Rams wanted to advocate for a purist, almost imperceptible design; products that fit seamlessly into the lives of those who use it. As such, he came up with ten principles for good design. Often referred to as the “ten commandments of good design,” these principles remain as timeless fundaments of design theory and practice today: Good design is innovative. Good design makes a product useful. Good design is aesthetic. Good design makes a product understandable. Good design is unobtrusive. Good design is honest. Good design is durable. Good design is consistent to the last detail. Good design is environmentally friendly. Good design is as little design as possible.

lifestyle_less3

If you have used one of Rams’ products, you would have likely been able to check off the boxes beside each of the aforementioned principles. Each and every one of his creations are aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly and exceptionally practical. They are beautiful without being fashionable, and therefore never appear antiquated. There is no use of big buttons or bold colours or abstract lines; nothing detracts from the product’s function, which is clear and self-explanatory. The inherent simplicity of the design makes the product smart as it is able to express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. Perhaps one of the most important principles of the ten is the one that considers the preservation of the environment. Rams made it his primary goal to offer products to consumers that conserved resources and minimized physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product. All ten principles boil down to one thing: less but better. Simplicity allows for products to be elegant, supremely versatile and free of the burden of non-essentials.

Although the current reality is that most companies do not consider good design when pushing out products to the public, there are some that do. Apple is a prime example. Both Steve Jobs, the late Apple co-founder, and Jony Ive, the company’s Senior Vice President of Industrial Design, were outspoken admirers of Rams’ work. If you compare some of Rams’ creations with Apple’s products, the similarities are astounding. It is fascinating to see the parallel between Braun’s speaker and Apple’s iMac. Thankfully, many newer start-ups and up-and-coming companies are now returning to the seeds that Rams had sowed. Unlike big, corporate giants, these new businesses recognize a gap in the market for carefully considered and expertly crafted products that reduce everything to the basics. Some examples that come to mind include Cereal Magazine, a store in Los Angeles called Formerly Yes and Vitsoe, a shelving company that Rams himself designed for. For these owners, Rams’ tenth principle — less but better — is their motto, and simplicity is their aim. They’ve adopted a new kind of social responsibility: to reduce products to their simplest form, thereby providing consumers with the best product possible.

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Dieter Rams’ design ethos extends far beyond design — it is a philosophy that also applies to life. With so many new products being offered to us, it has become almost second nature to want more and to buy more. Abundance has become a sign of wealth; new versions of appliances, phones and clothes are readily available at a moment’s notice. We feed into this mindless cycle of producing more, buying more and, as a result, throwing away more. This produces both environmental noise and visual noise, exerting very real and tangible effects on our lives. Rarely does anything in our lives remain permanent anymore.

Consumers have been programmed to jump at the sight of a sale sign, and to scope out deals in order to buy as much as they can. It is therefore unsurprising to me that friends of mine would widen their eyes or even chastise me when I purchase an item of clothing that is more than what they would consider as “a steal.” Buying less clothes but buying better clothes is a way in which I’ve adopted Rams’ principles into my life. Instead of spending a certain amount of money on many articles of clothing, consider spending the same amount (or perhaps saving even more) to invest in one high-quality piece. This will not only ensure that you will love whatever it is you buy, it will also lead to less clutter in your closet and save you time in the mornings when getting ready, reducing the burden of choice.

Buying less and buying better should extend into every part of our lives as consumers. The next time you buy a top, cooking knives or perhaps even a couch, remember Dieter Rams’ ten principles. Good design should be so simple, fluid and considered that they almost camouflage into your surroundings. They should make you feel a deep, lasting satisfaction at the mere thought of owning them. It is not only our responsibility to ourselves, but also our responsibility to society to refrain from perpetuating a harmful consumer mindset that focuses on abundance. In truth, simplicity is something we should adopt into every facet of our busy lives. Less is more, and less is always better.

Photo Credit: Abisag Tüllman

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