The Chrystal Goblet & Bland Design

For this project I was given the text of "The Chrystal Goblet" by Beatrice Ward. The thesis of this essay is rooted in a deep disdain for ornament. To her, typography was meant solely as a utility to communicate. Though I disagree with her sentiments, one must consider the context and time of it's writing.

Beatrice Ward wrote the Chrystal Goblet in London after World War II. For countless centuries prior, high society was known for its opulence and extravagance. The upper class's reluctance to accept change was frustrating for younger generations. It is easy then to understand where Ms. Ward's disdain for ornament is rooted. 

By contrast, the 21st century is marked so far by design for mass appeal. Advertising and branding agencies around the world are slated with the task of creating recognizable and trusted brand marks. But when design by committee goes wrong, or CEO's fear being too "out there" we end up with every brand and every piece of marketing material looking largely the same. The ubiquity of helvetica is proof of this attitude. I myself have been witness to designers selling sans serif bland brand marks to clients claiming their sleek modernity, familiarity and mass appeal. 

Combine this with our world becoming smaller due to globalization, and we have a recipe for disaster. Traveling is no longer an extreme culture shock as brands become global. Seemingly everyone who travels abroad has the same story about eating at McDonalds in so and so country "just to see if it is actually the same". 

So when I read "The Chrystal Goblet" naturally I was saddened by her opinion. When typesetting the piece I took extra care to add all the ornament my heart desires. Long gone are the days of William Morris and the Arts and crafts movement. Personally I yearn for design which takes the time to flourish and doesn't bother to appeal to everyone.