The First Things First Manifesto 2000 is a rallying call for change against consumerism’s message of ego over empathy and the pursuit of mindless leisure over altruistic purpose. Its existential questioning of the role of designers in a “harmful code of public discourse” (First Things First Manifesto 2000, 1999) awakens hope for change through self-awareness and empowerment by unity.
Runaway consumerism perpetuates needless suffering, inequality and waste. Real demand never needs to be manufactured; time wasted on “inessentials” is unsatisfying. Buying things does not satisfy all human needs (Maslow, 1943) and the system’s focus on endless consumption requires permanent change. But why is it up to graphic designers in particular, to risk their survival in being humanity’s last defence against rampant greed?
Sarcastically entertaining and truthful, Bierut’s Ten Footnotes to a Manifesto provides fair and reasonable criticism. Though harsh on the Manifesto authors, he communicates important hypocrisies and contradictions, especially regarding design as a job instead of a calling. His multi-faceted answer allows easy implementation by individuals on their own – adhering to common decency, considering the public as the most important client, simplifying the complicated, adding meaning wherever possible and designing aesthetic visuals (Bierut, 2007).
Bierut, M. (2007) 79 Short Essays on Design: Ten Footnotes to a Manifesto, New York, Princeton Architectural Press.
Emigre 51. (1999) First Things First Manifesto 2000. Retrieved from http://www.emigre.com/Editorial.php?sect=1&id=14
Maslow, A.H. (1943) A Theory of Human Motivation, Brooklyn College. Retrieved from http://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/34195256/A_Theory_of_Human_Motivation_-_Abraham_H_Maslow_-_Psychological_Review_Vol_50_No_4_July_1943.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1499924845&Signature=0PygQkuUp2V7x0Bb5iGjriIFnXg%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DA_THEORY_OF_HUMAN_MOTIVATION.pdf