In her new e-book, Design Voices, Anna Carnick puts eight designers—Milton Glaser, Massimo Vignelli, Stefan Sagmeister, Giulio Cappellini, Ross Lovegrove, Tokujin Yoshioka, Dror Benshetrit, and Maarten Baas—in the hot seat and asks them about what it means to be a designer today. The interviews took place over the course of two months late in 2011, and the responses act as a barometer to the myriad ways some of the leading design practitioners think about their profession and their role in the design world at large. Below is an excerpt from her interview with Dror Benshetrit, whose QuaDror system we featured in our December/January issue. To purchase the book, click here.
Anna Carnick: Do you remember what your first official “design” project was?
Dror Benschetrit: My first design, yes. I was interested in physics, something that has some magic, that plays with gravity. And it was something that played with mass and volume, transforming back and forth because of gravity. It’s hard to describe, but I was just playing with that as my portfolio pieces in order to get into design school. And
those were my first experiments.
That’s very interesting, particularly given your professional portfolio to date—and especially considering the release of QuaDror in 2011. It seems you’re still focusing on the same elements today—toying with gravity and physics, for example—that drew you to design early on.
It’s so true. I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but I came home yesterday, and saw an interview on CNN with Johnny Depp. He repeated himself a few times, saying, “You know, I’m still the same guy as I was when I pumped gas.” There are certain things that just don’t change. Somebody once told me that you could find enough ideas in your first sketchbook for the rest of your life, and it’s true. There’s something in our DNA that has been there all the time, and, of course, we progress and learn more, and it becomes more sophisticated maybe, but there’s a certain DNA that is always there.
When you look around at the greater design landscape today, what do you see?
I think the design world is at a fascinating point. More and more people understand what design means. They pay attention to all of the creations around them much more than before. We used to take things more for granted. We didn’t think, “Oh, wait a second, somebody actually sat and thought about this and designed this.” You look around, and everything that's man–made has been designed by somebody.
Of course, it’s obvious for designers, because we go to school and our teacher opens our eyes to those kinds of things and then we also have some background in the history of design. But now it feels like big corporations talk about design in the ways that Dieter Rams spoke about it 60 years ago, or as Achille Castiglione tried to highlight the importance of improving well-being through design. So it’s a very exciting time.
Of course, technology is a huge help, in the sense that we have so many more tools for design entrepreneurship. So many people create their own web pages and their own applications; there’s just a lot more of that out there. Soon, HP is promising to come up with a home 3D printer. And every kid now uses Photoshop and learned Photoshop in school as if it was as basic as geography—but they will also learn 3D software and print their own things.
So design is becoming more and more a part of our society. But again, it’s just another tool. Everybody in New York can go to Pearl Paint and buy a block of paper and colored pens and make their own art. Why shouldn’t design be like that?
Each one of us is a photographer. Each one of us carries a high-definition video and camera in our pocket, so we’re all photographers. It’s a really interesting time. It’s an era of numerous opportunities and possibilities, and it’s fascinating.