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

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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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John Caserta is a designer and educator based in Providence, R.I. He is an Associate Professor in the Graphic Design Department at Rhode Island School of Design. He is founder and co-director of The Design Office, a workspace for designers. This site is updated regularly and outputs to a book with Bindery. Get in touch via email.