Designers can be like busy beavers: even when not working on a client’s project for pay, they are always applying their talents to the world around them. Beavers not engaged in the grueling task of dam-building still have to sharpen their teeth and claws on any unsuspecting tree to keep in top form, and so must designers also find a suitable method for keeping their boundless creativity in check. Unfortunately, if a drought of actual project work occurs, designers fall into the delusion that these idle scribblings are their real raison d’être. The general trend of these productions is to go for maximum design-blog shock value, which seems to focus the output into one of five categories: sexual, fecal, juvenile, just plain ugly, or just plain ridiculous…or even a delightful medley of all five .  This Design Masturbation trend is definitely on the rise, perhaps a testament to a reduction in actual client-based work, or to the plethora of grads from the world’s glut of design schools that have had the misfortune of being persistently under-employed. Sometimes entire design departments or firms get wrapped up in one of these “projects” when actual work gets slow. Now we’re not saying these creations are completely without value: they can be fun impromptu exercises that lead to new thinking, or at the very least interesting PR pieces. But designers who find themselves issuing a back-to-back stream of these conceptual pieces should definitely seek help (in the form of clients, or at least a good dam to work on).

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  1. Lina B! says:

    OMG I hate this sh*t! Thanks for calling it out, Awol.
    Makes me want to go kick a designer.

  2. AWOLtrends says:

    For a lively discussion about this trend, check out this LinkedIn discussion thread:

    (you probably have to be a LinkedIn member to view)
    -AWOL Trends

  3. AWOLtrends says:

    Also: we appreciate your opinion Lina, but certainly don’t advocate kicking any designers (especially us)…
    -AWOL Trends

  4. lina p. says:

    clearly, a lot of this design is just a joke, and in most cases a pretty bad one. But conceptual design must not be confused with such cases. Conceptual design and design art do have a purpose and great value, both in monetary and in cultural terms.

    In addition, conceptual design more often than not IS commissioned, like the stool by forma fantasma commissioned by FENDI. (image Dezeen-craftica_fendi-1-sq)