Robert L. Peters

11 November 2019

The disadvantage of men not knowing the past is that they do not know the present.

— G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)


24 October 2019

Fascism is cured by reading. Racism is cured by traveling.

— Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936)


24 September 2019

Staredown.

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22 August 2019

See What I Mean?

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FITC-Spotlight-Robert-L-Peters

Toronto, Canada

On 21 October 2019, I’m slated to give a talk at the #FITCSpotlight ‘Design Ethics‘ event (making this my 9th appearance at an FITC event in the past 14 years). Here’s an abstract of my presentation

See What I Mean?

We live in uncertain times on a rapidly warming, fragile, and over-stressed planet. Tumultuous political, social, ecological, and economic instability — along with information overload, an overwhelming pace of change, threatened eco-systems, and staggering social imbalances — threaten our individual sense of purpose, place, and wellbeing. For the majority of our planet’s 7.7 billion human beings, the world remains a place of inequality, injustice, and suffering; even while the privileged of our “developed world” frolic in a buffet of excess, with gluttonous over-consumption as the daily modus operandi.

It’s been said that designers and artists can see and observe differently, more acutely than others — looking deep inside issues, perceiving hidden relationships and causal patterns, possessing an innate consciousness and natural tendency to question and identify needs in “the big picture.” As today’s world has been largely shaped by designers and intentional “form-givers” of the past few generations, are our creative professions even aware of the considerable responsibility that accompanies what we do, and of the complex forces our work exerts on aesthetic, technological, social, environmental, economic, and political fronts?

 


28 July 2019

NO.

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15 June 2019

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.

— Bertrand Russell (paraphrased)


7 April 2019

Pfeilstorch… (and discovering bird migration).

Rostocker_Pfeilstorch

Rostock, Germany

The term Pfeilstorch (German for “arrow stork”) is given to storks injured by an arrow while wintering in Africa, before returning to Europe with the arrow stuck in their bodies. (To date, around 25 Pfeilstörche have been documented).

The first and most famous Pfeilstorch was a white stork found in 1822 near the German village of Klütz, in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It was carrying an arrow from central Africa in its neck. The specimen was stuffed and can be seen today in the zoological collection of the University of Rostock… (it is therefore referred to as the Rostocker Pfeilstorch).

This Pfeilstorch was crucial in understanding the migration of European birds. Before migration was understood, people had no other explanation for the sudden annual disappearance of birds like the white stork and barn swallow. Some theories of the time held that they turned into mice, or hibernated at the bottom of the sea during the winter, and such theories were even propagated by zoologists of the time. The Rostocker Pfeilstorch in particular proved that birds migrate long distances to wintering grounds.

(source)


9 February 2019

RIP… Tomi Ungerer (1931-2019)

Tomi_Ungerer_par_Claude_Truong-Ngoc_mars_2014

Cork, Ireland

Tomi died peacefully in his sleep with a book beside him. He recently began working on a new collection of short stories and he has two major exhibitions opening in Paris this Spring. Tomi’s imagination never slept. Read more…

A polymath and a provocateur, Tomi Ungerer is perhaps best described by his motto: ‘Expect the Unexpected’.

His life and work defied easy categorization. Although best known as an author and illustrator of children’s books, Tomi Ungerer’s oeuvre encompassed diverse practices including illustration, advertising, writing, collage, sculpture and architectural design. From the beginning of his career in the 1950s to the present day, Ungerer’s work challenged social norms and conventions with breath-taking originality.

Born in Strasbourg in 1931, Ungerer worked in New York, Canada and Ireland as well as his place of birth. He has published over 140 books which have been translated into 28 different languages, ranging from his acclaimed children’s stories to autobiographical accounts to controversial volumes of social satire and adult themes.

Ungerer’s illustrative style is celebrated for its minimal dexterity, darkly comic wit and dazzling inventiveness. Renowned for his iconic advertising campaigns and his contentious political posters that railed against the Vietnam War and racial injustice in the 1960s, Ungerer’s frequently subversive work provides invaluable commentary on the divisive socio-political events of the second half of the twentieth century. Ungerer’s work continues to be politically-charged and he has been involved in numerous humanitarian campaigns for nuclear disarmament, Amnesty International, Reporters without Borders and more recently, European integration.

(from Tomi Ungerer’s official website) Learn more here

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“Posters for me are the most challenging and gratifying exercise. A poster has to act by impact, to catch the eye of a passerby within a few seconds. I would say the poster is more of an art form than most other kinds of advertising.

In the 1960’s I started to make political posters. Two subjects sparked my revulsion and my anger: racial segregation and the War on Vietnam. Later I did posters for other causes such as Amnesty International, liberty of the press, animal rights, ecology, nuclear disarmament and so on.” —Tomi

 


3 January 2019

“Quotable quotes”… (gone rogue).

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Seemingly everywhere.

I first used the line “Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future…” in a conference lecture in the mid-or-late 1990s.

That simple statement has since spread through the Interwebs like some sort of memetic rogue virus, repeated relentlessly by “famous quotes” sites, “wallpaper generators” and the like — a quick Google search brings up literally thousands of graphic “treatments” of this — on sites around the planet devoted to graphic design, yes; but also fashion, interior design, poster and decor sites, product design, architecture, engineering, strategic planning, marketing, medicine, linguistics, social work, advertising campaigns, etcetera, etc…

In fact, hardly a month goes by without someone, somewhere asking me for permission to use this now-famous statement for their own purposes — and of course I grant them full permission. While being widely quoted is certainly flattering, it does carry with it the caution to always “watch what you say.” (-:

For the record, I initially stated the “quotable quote” in question along with the advisory conclusion re: the power of design (and the ensuing responsibility of designers): “Design is therefore responsible for the world our children will live in.”

The top image is my own, from a book on design published in China. The images following are a tiny sample of the many “treatments” found online… (the Mao Clinic even offers it as “downloadable wallpaper” — click image below).

Design-Creates-Culture


2 January 2019

2019… and high time for unisex toilets.

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All

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Worldwide

Come on, People! It’s high time for unisex public toilets (aka all-gender toilets, gender neutral toilets, gender free toilets or all-user toilets). These are all toilets which can be used by anybody, regardless of gender identity or presentation.

Public toilets and sanitation facilities need to cater for all people, including those who are part of the LGBTI community. This is an issue with respect to the human right to water and sanitation and also from the perspective of the Sustainable Development Goal 6 (of the United Nations), which aim for universal access to sanitation and gender equality. Simply put, unisex public toilets provide equal sanitation space for all genders.

Gender segregated public toilets are an outmoded vestige of the Victorian era (200 years ago) where women’s modesty and safety were considered at risk and under constant need of surveillance and discipline. Before that (prudish) time, public lavatories around the world offered room for both sexes.

During the past two centuries public toilets around the world have been frequently been segregated by race, class, religion, and gender — and have often been completely inaccessible to certain people with unique needs or disabilities. Making public facilities universally accessible, and to diverse populations, has long been an issue on our “shrinking planet” — it’s high time for change!

More on the topic here. Images from diverse online sources…
Please treat all others as equals, and please do wash your hands. 


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