Is design transitive?

Hugh Graham writes that “design is too often about the transitive and the temporary.” (Transitive—the word comes from the Latin and means “passing over”) Consider how quickly designers have to change and adapt to generational demographics.

Brand Noise offers this:

“According to Princeton sociologist Robert Wuthnow in a new book titled After the Baby Boomers the key differences between Gen Y and Baby Boomers include that the younger generation is ‘spending more time in school, remaining financially independent… and changing jobs more often.’” Link

Now consider the Baby Boomers (again from Brand Noise):

“They comprise nearly 24% of the population, have a buying power of $3 trillion, and include many of the country’s current business and political leaders. But marketers misunderstand—and inefficiently target—this country’s 78 million baby boomers.” Link

Designers, by the nature of their craft, are communication experts and should be able to articulate ideas, brands, and identity to various changing demographics successfully providing they are supplied with reliable research. Hugh Graham agrees that change is the new norm, but pushes beyond that and proposes that “there’s a new form of change on the horizon; we’re heading into a constrained environment where the designer’s artistry and craft will have to encourage what lasts, what matters, what sustains.” Link

Can design be both transitive and sustainable? Only time will tell.

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