Tibor Kalman: “We don’t talk about planes flying. We talk about them crashing.” Matt 26 Jul 2006

14 comments Latest by Roger Wong

In Color Him a Provocateur, Wired talked to designer Tibor Kalman. Here’s some of what he said:

We live in a society and a culture and an economic model that tries to make everything look right…But by definition, when you make something no one hates, no one loves it. So I am interested in imperfections, quirkiness, insanity, unpredictability. That’s what we really pay attention to anyway. We don’t talk about planes flying; we talk about them crashing.
There was a time not so long ago when egomaniacs made media to their own personal standards, and when you make something for yourself, it will always be far better and more honest than something you make to please the marketplace.
Everybody who wants information wants it to be free. People who make it, assemble it, edit it, and publish it want to make a living at it. Some of them want large Mercedes-Benzes. But what I want to know is: How is info supposed to be free when food isn’t?
Q: Where are you looking for innovative media? A: I don’t know. Probably it’s being hatched in some garage. It’s always the freaks in garages who make things move forward. There’s always a garage and antisocial behavior involved. I think without those two things there is no real cultural advancement.
There’s tons of room left to experiment with traditional media…I want to know if it’s possible to make a movie that’s just words, or if it’s possible to make a movie on paper. And why can’t television be 100 times faster? Or slower? And why are 90 percent of magazines structured the same way? And why do they all stop at borders?

More TK quotes, from Moira Cullen interviews Tibor Kalman:

After 15 or 20 years I discovered that design is just language and the real issue is what you use that language to do. Now I’m at a point where I’m tired of talking about what kind of accents to use. I want to talk about the words that are being said.
What is said determines who listens and who understands. Graphic design is a language, but graphic designers are so busy worrying about the nuances - accents, punctuation and so on - that they spend little time thinking about what the words add up to. I’m interested in using our communication skills to change the way things are.

Related:
Tibor Kalman obituary (Salon)
Tibor Kalman: Provocateur (AIGA) (includes work samples)

14 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Dale Cruse 26 Jul 06

Tibor is always good for something provocative. He was a significant influence on Sagmeister, wasn’t he? Anyway, thanks for the link. Time to get readin’.

Launch Thought 26 Jul 06

-Where are you looking for innovative media?-

It is interesting to note that most earth changing innovations come from “freaks in garages.” Think the Write brothers and the airplane, Morse and the telegraph which led to Bell and the telephone, and Ford and the motorcar…. The list could go on and on.

Anonymous Coward 26 Jul 06

I heard Microsoft Zune wasn’t created in a garage.

Daniel Emanuelsson 26 Jul 06

About word and accent… There is an article and a discussion going on, over at Design Observer, that covers the issue of dealing with concept and form in design. http://www.designobserver.com/archives/016357.html

wayne 26 Jul 06

Wow, that’s a lot Bologna in one sitting.

Mrad 26 Jul 06

Plenty of great points there. Love the “no one hates, no one loves” line. But it does sit closely next to the old “try to please everyone and you’ll end up pleasing no one” expression.

Still, you gotta love the way famous rock star designers think and speak though.

Matt Todd 26 Jul 06

Wow, that’s just beautiful. I definitely connect with what he says about design being a language, and finding the right words. It’s the best help for me when I’m stuck with a design decision, even in APIs, et al.

Jack Straw 26 Jul 06

Why do cars stay in there lanes? Why do tv shows fit tv screens? Dude, what if, like, the world is just a grain of sand on a huge beach that is the universe!!!!!

Erik Grotz 26 Jul 06

I’m sure it’s a mistake, but I can’t help but see the date: Dec. 1996

Is it me, or is what he’s saying sound like it’s ten years old?

Obvoius HOW he’s saying it is not, but everything he’s said has been said (in certain terms) before. Nice read, though.

Erik Grotz 26 Jul 06

Crap, spoke too soon. It is ten years old. That means that hey — it is somewhat revolutionary…

Litfaßsäule 26 Jul 06

great site with good look and information…i like it

--Josh 26 Jul 06

“But what I want to know is: How is info supposed to be free when food isn’t?”

The same could (should?) be said about software…

jake 26 Jul 06

LOL J. Straw

Roger Wong 27 Jul 06

Erik: It is 10 years old. Tibor died in 1999. But I think his words are still relevant to the profession. His thing was for designers to be responsible for what they’re selling/communicating.

SVN: Thanks for the reminder of how great Tibor was. He’s one of my design heroes and someone who’s a great influence on me.

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