The New Design Economy

The New Design Economy

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Regina Yunghans
May 29, 2009

Kay Hymowitz's article, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Businesswoman from the Spring 2009 City Journal argues that with the current mix of injured economy and emerging visual age, "designers are big shots these days".

Yes, the economy is weak and designers are feeling it as much as, if not more than, anyone. But the article makes the case that the design industry is best poised to come under high demand even as business wanes and to meet the challenge head-on...

..."[Designers are] able to meld play and work, hobby and job. They expect to find personal gratification and significance in their work. They often talk about their "passion for design" and demonstrate the enterprising animal spirits that have always fueled American innovation."

The article introduces us to several budding young artist-businesswomen, including Brooklyn Heights' Jill Malek, pictured up top and previously covered by Apartment Therapy. Malek reported to City Journal as recently as February of this year, well into the recession, that she's working nonstop on her designs, which include hand-screen-printed wallpapers, stationery, websites, and even yoga mats.

The article closes by pointing out that in the long run the recession may actually be good for the design industry: "The democratization of design has changed us for good. There's no going back to a world where design is a luxury. 'The recession itself may increase design pressures,' Virginia Postrel observes. 'As consumers demand more value for their dollars, design is one form of value they expect at any given price point—including cheap ones. I observed this phenomenon in the 2001–02 recession. Rather than reverting to the expectations of a decade earlier, consumers became even more demanding about design quality'...

Also working in favor of the design economy is the spirit of its employees. Designers tend to be a forward-looking, can-do crowd by nature, and they know that they are laboring in a field whose parameters are still unfolding. Yes, designers are hurting, but they're on the lookout for opportunities. It's a good bet they'll find them."

For the full article, which we highly recommend giving a read, go to Portrait of the Artist as a Young Businesswoman in City Journal.

Image: via Design*Sponge

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