Market Values: Mapping design values from post-Soviet markets
This project is a search for an optimistic future scenario in my relationship with the graphic design profession I hold. Looking for ways to switch in my visual reality and communal memories in order to create meaningful, emotionally connected visual expression that would be a joy to make.
The project got its energy from a realization I had during my studies, that I have spent most of my design-related life training my brain with Western design principles. I come from Estonia but have studied in art universities in Amsterdam and Stockholm. Thing is, before studying in Sweden, I didn’t think of myself as not Western. I’ve always considered myself European, which sounds the same as Western. But I discovered that I can't have ideological discussions with the same toolbox that a Scandinavian person my age can. Or that I cannot relate to consumer culture in the same manner as a person grown up in old capitalism does. I don’t have nostalgia towards clothing brands. I don’t know what ‘brand loyalty’ feels like. And so on. My history and experience with consumer culture and the designed world is clearly different from Western Europe. It sounds like big words, but comes down to simple relationship with daily objects. And all of this is entirely a subject of design, I feel. I studied design based on the assumption that I want to relate to my material world in the same way that the Western design canon proposes, but something has gotten itchy about it.
Referencing Bauhaus or ‘scandi’ design has high currency in the culture that I come from. Relating to the heritage of modernism adds value maybe even more so culturally than economically. But each time I practice those values, I feel a burn in my fingers. I grieve for the energy that I didn’t spend on observing and synthesizing conditions closer to me. Each time I inhabit that educated designer role and echo the Western canon, it feels like I’m deleting something as much as I am creating something “new”.
That is why I took some time to look at the stuff that has little value at various second hand and online markets. Because they must be carrying a very different legacy to be that cheap.