By a chance encounter I recently came across a wonderful website that has a huge collection of design manifestoes all in one place. Despite the sometimes arrogant rhetoric that manifestoes are known for, they have a certain allure — the mystique of concisely capturing the thoughts about the current time, often accompanied by a declaration of what must happen, if the future of design is to be saved. The irony in this is unmissable; every new manifesto seemingly disregards the ones that have come before it and declares itself the new truth. So I thought, lets take a look at some of these design manifestoes and try to find the statements that actually resonate — perhaps just with me, perhaps with being a student, perhaps with the current time. Though they are not all specifically regarding architectural design, the ideas from different fields can easily be translated. Without further ado:
Architects, sculptors, painters—we all must return to craftsmanship!
For there is no such thing as “art by profession”. There is no essential difference between the artist and the artisan.
Manifesto of the Staatliches Bauhaus, Walter Gropius, 1919
The words on the printed surface are taken in by seeing, not by hearing.
The Topology of Typography, El Lissitzky, 1923
Develop a curiosity,
Look at things as though for the first time.
Advice for students, Charles Eames, 1949
Nothing must intrude to blur the statement of how a space is made.
The forms characterising the great eras of architecture present themselves and tempt us to adapt them to concrete and steel.
Architecture Is the Thoughtful Making of Spaces, Louis Kahn, 1957
A true architecture of our time will have to redefine itself and expand its means.
Many areas outside traditional building will enter the realm of architecture, as architecture and “architects” will have to enter new fields.
Everything Is Architecture, Hans Hollein, 1968
Obsolescence, whether based on fashion or real change, will have radical implications.
Our buildings will have to be planned for flexibility so that they can change, grow and adapt.
Design for Living, Norman Foster, 1969
Good design is honest,
It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
Ten principles for good design, Dieter Rams, 1970s
Make mistakes faster.
This isn't my idea -- I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.
An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth, Bruce Mau, 1998
Design is everything.
Anything could be designed. Everyone is a designer.
Triangular Design Manifesto, (onceptual]evices:, 2002
The process is the product. The most important aspects of a process are time, relationship and change. The process produces formations rather than forms.
Conditional Design: A Manifesto for Artists and Designers, Luna Maurer, Edo Paulus, Jonathan Puckey, Roel Wouters, 2008
What is good design is what communicates best in an original way, even though it doesn’t conform to our preconceptions of good design.
No image or colour or typeface is always good or always bad. What makes it good is if it’s the best image or colour or typeface that says exactly what you want to say.
Otherwise Forget It, Bob Gill, 2009
I believe that the Hippocratic Oath, “First do no harm,” while it applies to medicine, also applies to city planning, particularly when those plans impact our waterfront.
As an obstructionist, I believe that all plans that cause harm must be stopped.
The Obstructionist Manifesto, Mark Goldman, 2010