Tuesday, 15 September 2009

In Praise of Philippe Starck's "Apprentice"

I liked Philippe Starck's "Design Apprentice" last night on BBC2 (actually called School Of Design, where budding designers compete to work for him).

Now I will admit I also like the actual Apprentice (with Sir Alan Sugar), it being the reality show you can follow in one hour bursts that are full of detail, and you get it over with in a few short weeks. I admire its manipulative editing and its crass light entertainment that manages to pass itself off as in some way informative and insightful, and I have no doubt School Of Design will amount to the same shallow froth.

However I will stand up and shout the praises of SOD (someone didn't think that acronym through) far more than I ever would the Apprentice for one simple reason, I value the end product.

The Apprentices manque are striving for a job, a boring job, as a lowly drone in the Amstrad business empire whose only aim from there can be to work themselves up. To where? The top of the Amstrad business empire. Just how worth the effort is that? Which small child when asked what they want to be when they grow up says I want to be quite big in a company that makes, er, naff computer peripherals and owns some property. There really is only one thing on offer in the Apprentice and it is, a long way down the career line from the end of the show, lots of money.

Whereas School Of Design's raison d'etre is design. So at every step the contestants are thinking, doing, practising, and leading the viewer to think about design. And design is a good thing. Albeit there is good design and bad design, as this first episode concentrated on demonstrating, either way the very existence of design is something that advances cultural thought.

And more than that, design gives. Every design does something for everyone else, it is intended to be used or rejected by a consumer, whereas money, the raison d'etre of the Apprentice, doesn't. In competing to become part of Philippe Starck's team, each contestant wants to share their undeniable talent and ability with the world and, though they obviously hope to make their living doing so, their first concern is creating works of design that have never existed before and making the world a richer place through their efforts.

Whereas the Apprentices want to make money and they want to keep that money. They are greedy, self-serving, competitive people whose aim is to be richer than other people and who see anyone who doesn't compete with them as losers.

So, to sum up, the Apprentice is evil and a cancer in the heart of society, and School Of Design is good and beautiful. The end. Signed Kev.

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