design school


A story on lifestyle-design, illustrated with interviews, a drama of quotes, schematic photography and self portraits.



New Artists

Life as an artwork/ Self-design in the postfordism

In my surrounding milieu of young designers, I could determine a strong identification trough certain life-concepts or lifestyles. I especially noticed that some of these concepts seemed to lean on a lifestyle that one knows originally from artists. I resumed possible reasons for them could be to excuse their failure in being successful with their work or confirm for themselves a higher level of intellect. The cliche of an artsy lifestyle, like being different, standing out from the rest and being creative, seems to have become attractive for more people. Instead of identifying through what one exactly does, more the ideas behind have become important. The atmosphere of the postfordistic work field seems to support this change through its requirement to the people to become more flexible, able to transform themselves, and also being self responsible. This demanded flexibility makes people reflex themselves in a superficial way on their appearance and one could say their "self-design".
On the other side the borders also seem to blur. Since the 1960s art is not any more about crafts and signature but a conceptional way of work, which could also be called immaterial. That made it possible that now the roles in the field of art change and not only there, also the borders between design and art and generally the word creativity or art now stand for a lot of things which are not in any relation to art at all.
This cliche of the meaning of artists as nonconformal, creative people finds its way to a bigger mass, which means nonconformality has become conformality. As Dietrich Diederichsen said: artists have become the new role models.
These "new artists" build ther lifestyles like a collage from different elements to become a new identity/existence. This act in itself could also be described as an act of artistic production.
Maybe Foucoults "aesthetic of existence", in which he presents an ethic to design your life like an artwork, could let us out of these difficult circumstances. He suggests practices and so called self techniques instead of behaviors and ideologies. That supposes an ascetic lifestyle instead of a moral of not permitted and permitted. So the before hedonistic view on the life as an artwork changes into a new ethic, which could help to change society. Foucault sees this ethic as a practice of freedom.
This could help to give one his/her freedom to decide, while understanding the surrounding structures and his/her own position.
So the titel of my work is at the same time ironic and hopeful, showing the two sides of this phenomenon: the adaptation of the cliche of an artistic lifestyle based on circumstances and the consciously chosen way to live life as an artwork.
(Helena)