Dear Students,

Over the past few years I have talked about you a lot to my fellow designy-friends. We encourage you, and we are proud as hell when you choose us as a subject for a project. But most of us can’t deal with the questions. These range from the common, to the irrelevant (general questions on design practices that are broadcast to a wide array of designers), to the personal and/or interesting but which require a lot of time and thought to answer. Some questions ask our opinions on issues in design, and some, the very worst, smack of asking us to do your homework for you (you ask us questions, we fill them out, and there’s your “report”). But the honest truth for all of the above is that we just don’t have time to answer them, even when we want to.

So please take this suggestion. Pretend we’re dead. Look at our work, read our books, read the articles and interviews we’ve all done, and watch the videos. Make notes and then form your own opinions on whatever it is you’re thinking about us. You may find us feminine, feminist, egocentric, innovative, influential, systematic, iconoclastic or part of an overall movement … whatever it is, formulate an idea about our work, annotate your sources to support your premises, collect the images that support your ideas (and for student projects you are welcome to use anything on this site), give credit where credit is due, and write your report.

What is my opinion on feminism in design / on the future of design / on the impact of technology / of plagiarism vs. homage? It doesn’t matter. What is your opinion? This is what original thinking and research is about. Learn to form your own opinions and find the evidence to support them. You may come to a conclusion that we, the not-really-dead, find unusual, surprising or “wrong”, but if you’ve got the evidence to support it (i.e. “I believe Bantjes’ work is this, because of what she said here, here and here, and here’s the image evidence to support it” rather than “I hate this; I like that.”), I’m sure we’ll find it interesting and it may even help us see ourselves as others see us.

And if your instructor gave you an assignment specifically to interview a designer, could you point them to this note, please?

Good luck on your projects, and I’d love to see what you come up with once it’s finished.

Warm regards,
Marian Bantjes

And, as always: read Common Questions section of this site.