John Caserta
Insights per Minute was a series of one-minute recorded essays on some aspect of design. Commissioned by Design Observer This page contains 173 words and is filed under essays

Deliberate Obfuscation

My wife is a writer, not a graphic designer. Showing her my work usually elicits a look of confusion. I can understand why. The text is scattered or overlapping, images are obscured, color is scarce and the design’s overall message isn’t always clear. Some might call it design for designers. I prefer the term deliberate obfuscation – penned by writer William Stafford. This phrase appears in a poem alongside other things you would find in his journal. Among them: Odd things, like a button drawer. Mean Things, fishhooks, barbs in your hand. But marbles too, he writes.

I define design as an act of purposeful assembly. However what’s assembled doesn’t have to be universally or immediately understandable, but made in a form that one might learn to appreciate over time. Writers understand the value of the reader in completing the meaning of the text – so why is design any different. At least this is the point I keep making with more and more success at home.

The recording is available on SoundCloud

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Interim Dean of Architecture + Design and formerly Department Head of the Graphic Design Department at Rhode Island School of Design. Founded The Design Office, a workspace for designers, in 2007, and ran it until its closing in 2021. Hear an interview that covers my teaching and design career. Read an overview of my work from The Noun Project. This site is updated regularly and outputs to a book with Bindery. Get in touch via email.