If it’s no good, then why did they buy it?



I scored some bonus material. At the show of Paul Rand’s design work at the Museum of the City of New York I stumbled into the end of Eli Kince’s FIT class visit. Prof Kince is clearly an inspirational teacher. I spoke to some of the students after he’d headed for the cafeteria and they were rapturous, “You just had him for 5 minutes and you got something – we get him for three hours a week!” But none of them followed him to the coffee bar, at least for another 20 minutes or so. He’d suggested that they stay behind and look at each piece of Rand’s work carefully.

And here was his brilliance: he told them to look at the pieces and decide whether they liked them or not. So first lesson: it is OK not to like something that a great designer created, that in itself is a biggie. If they didn’t like a piece they should remember that somebody had paid Rand for this work – and to try and figure out what that company or individual had seen in it. Kince made them analyze the work from the point of view of a client – wrenching them from their own personal taste and judgement.

This is smart thinking that we could all apply instead of just saying “That piece is rubbish.” Let’s try and put ourselves in that client’s shoes and figure out what was going through their minds when they said, “That’s it, that is just the way I want it – don’t change a thing.” Surely we will learn something from that to apply to our own efforts. It doesn’t mean we have to do their bidding, but it will help us to have our ducks in a row when we show them our own masterpieces – and be ready to head their issues and suggestions off at the pass.

Here are some more images of the Paul Rand show – look for his words.