“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration, or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother to conceal your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it.” Jim Jarmusch
Authenticity is a way of living. It is a way of being, of approaching life, of feeling. It is about being who you are, expressing all you feel, not caring about being judged.
I’ve been thinking a lot about life lately and, as sad as it might be, I realize I live in a society that is not nearly authentic. The sad part is that we don’t even aspire for authenticity! We copy the American way of living and working, we dress like Europeans (or at least we’d like to think we do), we talk in dollars and in euros and we eat Italian and Arabic (or Mediterranean, if we want it to sound more sophisticated) food and buy only things ‘made in Italy’, and then we dare saying ‘there’s no place like home’! Where did our culture go? or better, did we ever have one?
People live their life in a lie, they envy and they copy each other, and they don’t really think about their own life passing by. They compete with each other on who achieves more, who arrives to goals first, and they forget to feel. They hurt relationship because they forget to be happy for each other’s achievements, they get lost in competition, in trying to be better than others instead of better people. They copy each other for the same reason forgetting who they really are, then at 55 they wake up and decide to change occupation because they never really did what they like.
All the above is damaging to a designer. A designer must be authentic. I distinguish between art and design. I think design can be art, but it isn’t necessarily it. The discussion about the meaning of art has been going on for centuries and a lot has been said about it, but on one thing most philosophers agree and that is that an artist always express what he feels through his art. A work of art doesn’t usually have a function a side from expressing the artist’s feelings. Design, on the other hand, has first and foremost the objective of finding a solution to a problem. Therefore, a designer, in order to be authentic, should express his feelings finding a solution to a problem (pragmatic or philosophic as it might be). Only if the solution comes from the designer’s inside need, design becomes authentic.