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Super Normal

Super Normal

The Super Normal project is a manifesto for a design philosophy adopted by Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa. It is basically a reaction to much of the ‘over design’ we see nowadays – questioning the need for design for design’s sake surplus to the aesthetic or functional value of an article. As Morrison says:

“Design, which used to be almost unknown as a profession, has become a major source of pollution. Encouraged by glossy lifestyle magazines, and marketing departments, it’s become a competition to make things as noticeable as possible by means of colour, shape and surprise. It’s historic and idealistic purpose, to serve industry and the happy consuming masses at the same time, of conceiving things easier to make and better to live with, seems to have been side-tracked. The virus has already infected the everyday environment. The need for businesses to attract attention provides the perfect carrier for the disease. Design makes things seem special, and who wants normal if they can have special? And that’s the problem.”

“Not that old things shouldn’t be replaced or that new things are bad, just that things which are designed to attract attention are usually unsatisfactory. There are better ways to design than putting a big effort into making something look special. Special is generally less useful than normal,and less rewarding in the long term. Special things demand attention for the wrong reasons, interrupting potentially good atmosphere with their awkward presence.”

And why ‘Super Normal’? Fukasawa explains:

“Designers generally do not think to design the ‘ordinary.’ If anything, they live in fear of people saying their designs are ‘nothing special’. Of course, undeniably, people do have an unconscious everyday sense of ‘normal’, but rather than try to blend in, the tendency for designers is to try to create ‘statement’ or ‘stimulation’. So ‘normal’ has come to mean ‘unstimulating’ or ‘boring’ design.”

“It’s not just designers; people who buy design and clients who commission designers do not see ‘normal’ as a design concept or even entertain the idea of creating a ‘new normal’. To dare, then, to design something ‘normal’ within this prevailing scheme of design common sense raises the stakes; it makes for a consciously designed normal above-and-beyond normal that what we might call ‘Super Normal’.”

You can read more about Morrison and Fukasawa’s Super Normal philosophy here and the International Herald Tribune has a written a nice piece on the subject – ‘Celebrating the beauty of ‘super normal’ little objects of daily life’


Super Normal
Jasper Morrison & Naoto Fukasawa

Super Normal – Sensations of the Ordinary
Jasper Morrison & Naoto Fukasawa

Both published by Lars Müller Publishers

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