When I asked 60 designers to create posters illustrating their respective complaints and donate them to an exhibition about complaining, they complained, of course. Designers are never overjoyed about doing something for nothing. Yet everybody loves to complain about something, and since these posters lets these designers grouse about anything ... well, it’s hard to keep a good kvetcher down.
Now, more than 70 visual rants, on everything from too many hipsters to too many hurricanes, line the interior and exterior walls and floors at The Wolfsonian-FIU in Miami Beach, a museum known for its collections of “Decorative and Propaganda Arts.”
The exhibition I curated, “Complaints: An Inalienable Right!” was accompanied by another, “Bummer,” for which designer Todd Oldham selected depressing objects (example: a death-row meal tray) from the Wolfsonian collection. Both premiered during The Wolfsonian’s Power of Design 2014 weekend, from March 20 to 23, sponsored by the Knight Foundation. Moderated by public radio host Kurt Andersen, it featured comedian Andy Borowitz, novelist Michael Chabon, digital pioneer Jaron Lanier, and others carping about air travel, urban sprawl, digital congestion, garbage, and other areas of life that could be transformed by good design. There was even a melodic complaint choir provided by Florida International University (no whining was allowed).