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    What are the importance of Dutch design?

    In my opinion, research, critique, content and process take important position in Dutch design, the following story will tell how important it is.

    Street letters have fascinated me for a long time, because they represent local culture in a certain period and context. I plan to make a project about it, therefore I collect these kinds of street letters, signboard/advertisement, graffiti, handwriting/handmade and digit.

    But the lecturer, Michiel van Opstal, didn’t agree with me. He thought a good design project is based on criticism instead of fascination, and he asked me to criticize. It made me confused – how should I criticize my fascination – street letters? Looking back, why do I like street letters?

    Firstly, a street is a stage for cultural diversity. Street letters represent local culture in a public place. Keeping an eye on street letters helps people understand local culture. Unfortunately, cultural diversity is disappearing every day. Eg. by 2100, more than half of the more than 7,000 languages spoken on Earth may have disappeared. The same as street letters.

    Secondly, street letters are not global brand typography, like McDonalds, Coca Cola and Nike, which you see everywhere. I don’t like them because they are the same everywhere. All over Europe, McDonalds advertisements are mostly the same, while European countries are different from each other. It would be fun to make different McDonalds advertisements for different countries. All in all, that’s why I’m open for culture diversity and try to keep it. For street letters, I found several ways to save them. Firstly, I propose to research and record the 4 kinds of street letters mentioned above.

    At the same time, I’ll design some street typography, e.g. take content or style from street letters, and then make new typography; or make typography on streets, like Banksy and other street artists do. This is an example I designed based on the slogan of MacBike, a bike hiring company in Amsterdam. It says “brains travel on bikes”. I like it because it reflects my 2 years cycling experience in Holland – I’ve got lots of fresh ideas on bike. Well, the slogan has been presented quite tough, which is different from my experience – cycling with nature surroundings, blue sky and fresh air. So I took the slogan, put it in nature context, blend the text with clouds.

    In the end, I’ll edit and design the book Letters from the street to show all the collection and my typography new designs.

    Writing the research proposal almost changed my way of designing. Before, I used to edit content and visualize in the same time, which is not that effective. As if content change, visual need to be changed as well. It wastes lots of time! But if I researched and edited content before visualizing, I won’t waste that much time in modifying any more.

    Furthermore, without research, critique and content, no concept could be developed, and nothing could be designed. Beginning a project with a research question and proposal makes me work in order. I could even predict the process and the result. Even I experiment a lot while visualizing, I won’t get lost, because I know how to judge – if content fits purpose, visual fits content, the design works!

    Finally I realize the importance of research, critique, content and process in design, which already saved my time in the future.