Freedom, Terrible Freedom
Last week I was lending an ear to an anonymous Californian designer friend who needed to vent about an uppity client. This client didn’t approve of what my friend was trying to achieve with a design, and for that, the client was lambasted for not “getting it”. It may just be my science-fiction addled brain, but this got me thinking about good and bad clients, and those designers (me among them at times) wishing for a client utopia, where every client understands and respects what design and designers can do for them. But, if the general populace “got” design, what would really change? Would it be more distopia than utopia?
Think about it, what if all clients were on the same page as us regarding design? Would the marketplace would be overrun by designers, or people merely peddling design as a commodity? Where the demand is high, and the supply can easily be high to match, prices plummet and quality usually follows. Additionally, with clients just accepting our words and work for what we tell them they mean, would we stop fighting battles for good design, and stop challenging ourselves to create it?
I’m a bit of a stalwart optimist and I’ve always considered that I need bad or, more appropriately, challenging clients. I’m not talking about clients that withhold respect, try to do my job, or undermine recommendations based on fear. No one wants those kinds. I mean clients that push us to create better things and to be better designers. Clients that want to learn, and want to question.
So, is “bad design” actually part of the “good design” equation? Can we qualify good design without bad design? Please, do tell.