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If Design Is Art, What Are You Willing to Risk for the Love of Your Craft?

The Passion and Challenge of Design Porn

This is not my typical blog, so please indulge me on this one...

You may not know this about me, but I grew up in the art world at a very young age. My childhood goal was to work for Disney as an animator. Throughout my childhood and into high school, I was enrolled in a wide variety of art classes, adult art schools and would fail after three attempts, to get into Cal Arts in Valencia, CA. Later I would apply my art background into a career in high-end custom decorative lighting, designing for hospitality, commercial and high-end residential projects worldwide.

In the world of art, there is a culture of self exploration and self expression. Which ever medium you are drawn to (fine art, graphic design, fashion, graffiti art, etc.), there is a passion and a love, that you are willing to risk everything for.

As a lighting designer, my world easily crossed over into the world of interior design and architecture. In this world, designers and architects are both artists and project managers. Bridging the creative process with timelines, client expectations, vendors, deliverables and budget constraints.

But from my own humble perspective, there is another influence that quietly drives the design and architecture industry, that isn't quite called out enough, or for the same reasons, as I believe it should...


In my opinion, Media is a giant, and silent, puppeteer. She's a siren, tempting the industry with fame, celebrity, and the hope of riches to come. He's the wealthy, rich old Hollywood executive, with his deals, fame, and fortune. Whether this is TV, print, or digital media. They lure the designer in, promising to feature and showcasing your artistry and talent, bringing recognition, fame, fortune and endless opportunities.

But the design community isn't actually the benefactor of this fame and fortune.

You are actually the "product".

So what's wrong with that?

Well to be honest, in my opinion, media has changed the "purpose" of design.

Instead of the "art" of design. It's the "fame" of design. It's the "riches" of design.

The culture has shifted. And with it, the pricing, value, need for business education, collaboration, the sourcing process and entire narrative around design and the design business. The design industry tends to avoid business talk, opting for social media conversations, likes and follows. The industry has enlisted the design community as quasi sales reps, influencers and trend perpetrators. The design and architecture community has sold out to fame, fortune and wealth.

Now, I know how that sounds...It sounds like the ravings of a 16 year old punk band, fighting to stay independent in a world of music licensing deals, MTV and Billboard Charts.

And it is. And it should be.

Within the world of fashion, music and art, it's the independents that drive the culture. Even Taylor Swift was once a misunderstood teenager, with no microphone, or audience. And for every Taylor Swift, there are thousands of incredibly talented people that take to their microphones at bars, weddings, karaoke joints and in showers, singing their little hearts out, for the love of their craft.

I launched Design Porn to nudge an industry back into a creative class.

During the 2023 Christmas break, I walked into a used book store. There I flipped through the local independent magazine rack. To be honest, the magazines were horrible. There were books literally made out of folded copy paper. The content sucked!!! The graphics were hand drawn (by what looked like a three year old).

And it was...beautiful.

These independent publishers weren't seeking fame and fortune (although, several were priced at more than $30 a copy). The authors and publishers had "something" burning in their heads and hearts, that they felt the world needed to read and see. They published for the love and passion they felt. Not the accolades they may receive, or the clients that would praise them.

Also during the holiday, I watched the Netflix Pamela Anderson documentary, "Pamela, a love story".

The part of the movie that struck me was when Pamela got the call from Playboy. At the time, Pamela was a simple farm girl in Alaska, growing up with hippie-ish parents. When she told her mom that Playboy had called, she struggled with the thought, "Am I the type of person that would pose for Playboy?"

This simple call from Playboy, caused her to deeply reflect on the person she is, and the person she may become by simply saying, "Yes."

Here response, like many others before and after her, who would be featured in Playboy, would lead on a life changing trajectory. One with opportunities, connections, life stories, fame, fortune and a life well lived and unique. A bold expression of life. And a journey like no other.

That got me thinking...

When Architecture Digest, Country Living or Luxe Magazine calls a designer or an architect... is that designer faced with the moral and personal mental challenge of, "Am I THAT person? Is this who I am?"

And the simple answer is, "No. Not at all."

There is no pain in the invitation to be published by the design industries press and media.

So, immediately that got me thinking...

"If design is art? Where's the pain? Where is the challenge to your spirit and soul? How far are you willing to go for the love of design?"

Now, I know...Starting and running a design based business is hard enough as it is. I get that. But so is ANY business. The local cupcake shop has it's challenges. But that local cupcake shop owner is rarely faced with the concept of a "love of the arts". In the world of culinary arts, the local cupcake owner is typically more concerned with cute and citchy, rather than Michelin Star reviews.

Opening another boutique retail store in a shopping mall, has no greater moral test or artisanal purpose or meaning to life. Trendy and boutique in it's own right, but by no means withing the class of "the Arts".

Design and architecture is ART.

So, where are the publications that tests the limits, provoke inspiration, and when you receive the invite...causes you to pause and ask yourself, "What am I willing to do and share for the love of my craft?"

Is that an invite from Country Living? Or Architectural Digest? Or even Designer's Today?

Sadly, the answer is "no".

Getting an invite from any of the Conde Nast owned and operated publications, is simply consumer packaged flattery, and exploitation of an entire industries talent and skill. Worse is that these publications have influenced and altered the intent and purpose of design and architecture.

Where is the publication that is NOT for the masses and the consumer? Where is the independent, crappy, photo copied, hand drawn, independent rag-tag magazine that sits on the shelf of a used book store, with a $30 price tag, boldly filled with content that is not made for the mainstream, but exists simply because someone, somewhere needed to put pen to paper and share it with the world?

Where is the design and architectures outlet?

And, for that reason, I launched Design Porn.

And for that reason, its my hope, that the design industry takes the time to log in, and share their most revealing and soul baring stories. Their experiences and sources of inspiration, in order to inspire, cultivate, and advance the "art" of design once again.

So, I ask you this...

"You may love design. But are you willing to get naked for it?"

Thanks for indulging me with this read. If you "love" design. I ask you to take the next step, and share your story with Design Porn. Check your gut. Log in. And share from the heart. Upload photos that scare you a little bit. If you are truly a design artist, then upload the photos and share the story that scares you a lot.

The design community requires a community that designs because you simply must.


Joseph Haecker


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