Capitalism could not exist without the coins, notes, documents, graphics, interfaces, branding and advertisements; artefacts that have been (partly) created by graphic designers. Even anti-consumerist strategies such as social design and speculative design are being appropriated within capitalist societies to serve economic growth. It seems that design is locked in a system of exploitation and profit, a cycle that fosters inequality and the depletion of natural resources.
CAPS LOCK uses clear language and striking visual examples to show how graphic design and capitalism are inextricably linked. The book contains many case studies of designed objects related to capitalist societies and cultures, and also examines how the education and professional practice of (graphic) designers supports the market economy and how design practice is caught within that very system.
The content of CAPS LOCK is structured in chapters with titles of professions that designers can occupy (such as Educator; Engineer, Hacker, Futurist, Activist, etc.). These titles respond to the importance of not just how designers make work, but also how they perform daily economic and social roles.
Each chapter is divided into coherent articles in which diverse examples of objects and design practices are relayed. The book also features examples of radical design collectives, that work towards alternatives between design, community and reciprocity.
Author Ruben Pater (born 1977) was trained as a graphic designer and works in journalism, activism, education and graphic design under the name Untold Stories. His work has received several international prizes and he has participated in many exhibitions worldwide. His first book, The Politics of Design (2016), has been an inspirational sourcebook for design students, artists and visual communicators in many different places and contexts; Eye on Design wrote: "It’s the kind of literature that should be handed out to all students on their first days at art school, along with all the Albers, Berger, Benjamin and Sontag that form the backbone of the design curriculum—an up-to-date assessment of the landscape through which all modern visual practitioners must navigate."
Softcover, 18,4 x 11,7 cm, 552 pages, English, published in Netherlands, 2021.