It was a dark and stormy Black Friday.
Somewhere in Wichita, Kansas a woman typed in a
20PERCENT discount code for a holiday calendar with images automatically pulled from her iCloud.
Somewhere in Spokane, Washington a COVID-widowed man grappled for purchase with his Best Buy boxes and decided today would be his first time eating out alone.
Somewhere in Wauconda, Illinois a man could not leave to get his RTX 3080 Ti because a willow tree collapsed from a sudden morning frost and destroyed his car.
My last physical ties to my homeland collapsed with that tree. I was thirteen when I carved my initials into it. It was summer and I needed something to fill the awkward silence that can only be generated by two puberty-berserk teenagers in probiscal proximity.
The town’s logo was objectively unobjectionable and subjectively - to me, at least - stupid.
You see, there’s a lake in Wauconda. It is called Bangs Lake. Bangs Lake from above looks like a cell undergoing mitosis. To the southwest, the ancestor cell. To the northeast, the descendent cell. This one-two splotch was used as the foundation of Wauconda’s logo. An unobjectionable choice with the town’s defining geological feature being the lake.
(Never mind the superfund site which contaminated the water table and resulted in fierce town hall debates my mother helped lead and secure reparations for 409 homes but then years later big wigs cloak and daggered their way through backchannels to pipe Lake Michigan water in from 30 miles away thereby triggering a massive windfall to developers who had their fingers in the honeypot of local politics but don’t bother with any of that, though.)
The other element of Wauconda’s logo is an illustration of an indigenous person, presumably Wauconda. Another unobjectionable choice.
(Never mind that there is no trace of the Wauconda people anywhere else in the town no art no street names no buildings no reservations no plaques no memorials no living people and I would know because I rode my bike around that town and went to school and worked and lived and filmed movies on those suburban streets for years so yeah they were genocided but don’t bother with any of that, though.)
The logo is stupid. Here’s a photo of it. Cyberpunk collage, I guess. I cannot think of a better example for the state of much design in our world.
I commend the decision to imbue a bit of history and flair… but on a street sign? And just why does a town need a logo, anyways?
Asking myself these questions all day are but one one of many my occupational hazards.
Look, this isn’t a declaration of war on “bad design.” People have been tooting that horn for decades. A dog whistle for, “I will make you a logo with a lot of white space, Gotham, and pastel colors.” To think that you are the arbitrator of “good design” is something I would encourage you to reflect on.
That’s because design is intelligence made visible. Good and bad - morality - has nothing to do with it because all design is subjective.
Some of the most effective design I’ve seen is emergent. Yesterday, I noticed they barricaded the entrance to Target with shopping carts. Message received. You’re fucking closed for Thanksgiving.
When something happens and needs to be communicated quickly people from all walks of life and all ages in time use design. Design can be written or spoken. Design can be how a building works or how a container opens. Design can be a splash of paint on a door or a spent toilet paper roll on top of the toilet seat (thank you).
Black Friday Pilgrims
To those Black Friday Pilgrims in Spokane, Wichita, and Wauconda - do you know you’re on indigenous land?
To the Amazonian porter driving through Wauconda and confronted with its logo - do you know what Bangs Lake looks like from above?
To the reader of this blog - do you know know why you’re here?