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Rethink Redesign Reconstruct
Mark Wasserman’s Rethink Redesign Reconstruct poses a novel experiment where designs are remixed. Spinning off the idea of remixed music, Wasserman lets designers realize work that’s fresh, different, outlandish, and even disobedient.

In his introduction, Wasserman touched on how remix pertains to music, hair gel, and design, “…no matter how great the original design is, it’s just a solution, never the only solution.” How true. And I feel many designers agree with that statement. Looking back at old work I’ve done, I want to do things differently. And even work that’s 1-2 hours old could get a second, third, or fourth treatment—the possibilities are infinite. This is the most enjoyable part of a designer’s job, and the hardest.

Wasserman’s colleagues pull off this possibility game rather well. Throughout the book, concepts from the likes of Sagmesiter, Aesthetic Apparatus, Modern Dog, WeWorkForThem, and Dave Eggers get retranslated. To make this happen, Wasserman invited designers to contribute one portfolio piece for redesign. After reviewing a collection of work online by designers from all over the globe, he invited a select few to be the redesigners. Wasserman deserves credit for networking, phone calling, emailing, chatting, and whatever else it took to bring this together. In the end, he amassed a breadth of work that reinforces Mark Twain’s notion, there’s no one way to skin cat.

Throughout the collection of designs and redesigns, Wasserman peppered interviews with a bulk of the questions focusing on process. (How hard was it? What was the overall experience like? Explain how you went about planning, conceptualizing, and designing.) The original designer also gave their opinions/feedback on the redesigns with one-word reactions and thoughts on their favorites. The overall tone is conversational between Wasserman and his designers with few shocking statements. However, one surprise was a redesign for a soft drink can, done by Todd Baldwin of PigeonHole Design. Todd redid the soft drink can as a skateboard; call this subversive, but it just came off disobedient to me.

The only disappointment of Rethink Redesign Reconstruct was that I recognized very few of the original designs selected for redesign. In truth, what designer would give up their best or most popular concept for a redo? But perhaps as a follow up to this book (if a sequel is warranted), Wasserman could move onto some of the more renowned designs from the past.

I always enjoy hearing disc jockeys remix the classics like Beethoven or The Beatles. The challenge is huge, and the risk is great. Maybe we’ll see Rethink Redesign Reconstruct 2 take on Bernhard, Tzara, Lissitzky, Matter, Pineless, Thompson, or Rand.

Book Information
Rethink Redesign Reconstruct: How Top Designers Create Bold New Work by Re:Interpreting Original Designs by Mark Wasserman
192 pages, Hard Cover
10.4 x 10.3 x 0.7 inches
Publisher: How Design Books
ISBN: 1581804598
Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
PUBLISHED ON Feb.01.2005 BY Jason A. Tselentis
Armin’s comment is:

You know… It's hard to knock this book — even though my initial reaction is to knock it — since the premise allows for absolutely anything to happen. So under what parameter can we judge this? Simply: does the stuff look cool?

It does, I guess, if you are into that look — there is a prevalent look along all the book I think. It just leaves me with that "battlecry of our generation": Whatever.

On Feb.02.2005 at 05:25 PM
Al aka El Negro Magnifico’s comment is:

I've read that book. It was a total hoot, especially when it got kinda petty and "schoolyardish". There were a few put-downs and name calling in there, if I remember correctly.

Otherwise, it was cool to find out about how the pieces were put together (both the originals and the "remixes") and to see either improvement or utter failure in re-evaluating the work. It's a visual adventure.

On Feb.02.2005 at 05:39 PM
Zak’s comment is:

Beginning to peruse, my initial reaction was a desire to see the book itself redesigned. The re-work therein varied in quality, but hovered beneath amazing. I certainly understand the "prevalent look" Armin mentioned and felt that it worked in some cases, but given the circumstances of some other projects the look was probably inappropriate and ultimately unsuccessful.

However, I will note that I could not stop turning the pages. The premise of the book was quite interesting and the comments on each other's work brought an irresistible drama to the experience.

On Feb.02.2005 at 09:39 PM
Jason T.’s comment is:

The schoolyard analogy fits well, Al. I admit, I didn't know what to expect myself. Overall, the book was fun and why something like this isn't done more often escapes me. Online, I could really see the RE process taking off. Here's a place where loads of comments could be exchanged and voiced—instantly. Rethink Redesign Reconstruct Reblog.

On Feb.02.2005 at 11:40 PM
Derrick Schulyz’s comment is:

My main probelm with the book is that most of the designers they hired are more fine artists than designers. sure, they own "design firms" that specialize in t-shirts and posters, but sadly most of the work boils down to "convert his style into my style." I admittedly did just a perusal, but it felt like most of the designers just chose to reinvent what was already there, or take it completely out of context and not have to answer to anyone. I wish more than a few had actually approached it as a problem solving exercise, instead of a beauty exercise. And I will admit that I love most of the artists they hired, but I'm not going to say they are great designers.

On Feb.03.2005 at 01:28 AM
Petter Ringbom’s comment is:

And I will admit that I love most of the artists they hired, but I'm not going to say they are great designers.

No one was hired. People were asked to participate and could specify which projects they were interested in tackling. I don't think anyone approached this as a job, which certainly set the tone for the solutions.

As a side, the olde "artist' vs "designer" thing is so not interesting. Who cares.

On Feb.03.2005 at 12:17 PM
Al aka El Negro Magnifico’s comment is:

As a side, the olde "artist' vs "designer" thing is so not interesting. Who cares.

I totally agree. It's boring. Just as boring as when the old "illustrator vs. designer" arguement pops up on gigposters.com every once in a while. Nothing gets solved.

On Feb.03.2005 at 01:02 PM
Jason T.’s comment is:

As a side, the olde "artist' vs "designer" thing is so not interesting.

Hmmm. Why?

On Feb.03.2005 at 02:48 PM
Al aka El Negro Magnifico’s comment is:

Whenever that arguement comes up, it goes in circles. And it's pointless, in my opinion.

On Feb.03.2005 at 03:28 PM
Ravenone’s comment is:

Now lurking on the border between artist and designer more than ever...

I agree- the argument's overdone, and it won't go anyware. It also has the potential to needlessly destsroy friendships and promote unconstructive argument and other bad things, ie: Leading to namecalling, and unoriginal, dull name-calling at that.

Our local stores don't carry the book, but it sounds neat, at least in the idea phase.

On Feb.03.2005 at 03:37 PM
vibranium’s comment is:

A biased account:

I may have been in the minority, but i really struggled with the pieces i 'remixed' - i challenged myself as if they were 'real world' projects.

I enjoyed the process, the results and the 'schoolyardishness' of it. I was glad to be part of it.

to me, it's genius was - It revealed the good, the bad and the ugly of the pure subjectivity of graphic design as it is practiced today. a naked look at what is REALY going on out there - for better or for worse.

I for one feel like any collection there is good (great) and bad (eww!) - but overal fresh and fun and genuine.

On Feb.03.2005 at 09:41 PM
IAAH’s comment is:

It's the process that's intriguing. I think most on this thread would agree that they listen to music while they work. That being said, I'm fascinated at how closely related the "art" of remixing has been utilized in contemporary music today and conversely in design.

I think it's fair to say that most designers "sample" constantly, and in many respects subconsciously. As was stated above, some of the work was not stellar, but nether are all musical remixes.

On Feb.03.2005 at 10:52 PM
Steven’s comment is:

I haven't seen the book, but I really like the idea.

As I like to say: Form may follow function, but context changes everything.

On a tangent, (since you gave the link), it's the first time I've gone to Sagmeister's site. My reaction to the design: (No offense, but...) Are you kidding? Ewwww!!! I'm stunned. But hey, what do I know? Maybe clunky and awkward is "all the rage." However, I just can't forgive the clicking buttons: so 1997. Oh well, "whatever."

On Feb.04.2005 at 03:38 PM
Steven’s comment is:

Okay, maybe I was being a little too critical just now. Not interested in ruffling the feathers of the Famous.

Whatever floats you're boat.

(I'm still surprised, though.)

On Feb.04.2005 at 04:01 PM
Jason T.’s comment is:

I happen to like Sagmeister's site. It has a real whimsy to it, that matches his sensibilities and humor. The buttons are a real hoot.

On Feb.04.2005 at 08:37 PM
Steven’s comment is:

Fair enough, Jason. It's not my cup of tea, but I can respect other opinions... and sensibilities.

On Feb.04.2005 at 09:00 PM