In his essay “Raging Bull”, Rick Poynor defines the word “bullshit” as it is used in a cultural context, specifically in design. The main point of the article have something to do with how people employ bullshit in the design profession and how its use is justifiably used in the field even as the author frowns upon all kinds of bullshit usage. In the design process, bullshit is used to explain the intuitive and often irrational aspects of a design to clients. To sell an idea and win a proposal, one often has to use bullshit to justify esthetic aspects of design that might not actually serve the project’s purpose. This point is important to emphasize in that the main objective of the essay is to inform the reader about the existence of bullshit in the field of design and every consumer has to be aware when he is being told the truth or being led away from it by elaborate verbiage.
“Any sign of tolerance for bullshit in public life should concern us. The last thing we can afford is to view the bullshitter indulgently as a source of amusement (Poynor 151).” These words ring true not only in design but also in other fields like advertising, public relations and politics as the article points out. The objective of sellers, manufacturers, service providers and election candidates is to convince their market or audience. These people have become skillful with weaving words that sounds good to hear but are in fact meaningless, irrelevant, or general platitudes that cannot translate into actual actions. Most often, however, we laud these bullshitters and become convinced because of their persuasive powers.
This essay should make us aware both as prospective consumers or clients and as designers who would be asked to present something that aims to persuade a client. Is it worth it to employ bullshit just to sell? The article does not think so, and neither should we. Trust is the only good basis for social relations and real trust can only be established by the truth, whether it is good or bad. During the design process, the designer should be conscious that he must be able to justify even the esthetic aspects of his work to the client, and not come up with rationalizations purely for effect rather than a sincere explanation.
Poynor, Rick. “Raging Bull,” Looking Closer. Michael Bierut, William Drenttel, Steven Heller, eds. Allworth Communications, Inc., 2007.