Thursday, 4:13pm
28 June 2012

Toe-breaking thoughts on social responsibility

Design Anarchy

Kalle Lasn<br>Oro Editions<br>

He’s a West-Coast sneaker-marketer with one of the coolest brands around. He’s ironic and media-savvy, and he understands his target audience. He has a singular appreciation of the power of graphic design and advertising, and a deep-seated suspicion of political movements.

Half a point if your answer was Phil Knight, chairman of Nike. The person I’m referring to is Kalle Lasn, editor of Adbusters, and the author of a new book which, if size matters, is clearly very important, weighing in at more than 6lb 8oz and 416 pages.

This is the second monograph by the co-founder of the Media Foundation; his first was Culture Jam: The Uncooling of America™ (1999). Predictably, the book with ‘design’ in its title is also the one with pictures where the words usually go. Design Anarchy is chock-full of voyeuristic gore: an appalling world of degradation, deprivation and devastation.

Unfortunately this is rather familiar territory for anyone who reads Adbusters. As is the reminder that graphic designers – yes, graphic designers – are the new political avant-garde; that it is we who will bring capitalism to its knees by, well, designing stuff in a really anarchic way. (One can only wonder what the Chinese folk who printed the book made of all this.) Lasn leads the charge over the barricades by rejecting grids, ditching the list of contents, working without page numbers, and recycling chunks of material from back issues of his magazine . . . [EXTRACT]