DAMN magazine / Editor-in-Chief of DAMN magazine

Gabrielle Kennedy is a renowned design journalist who for twenty years has contributed significantly to cultural journalism, criticism, and commentary. Currently she is the editor-in-chief of DAMN magazine, one of the few remaining long-standing print publications dedicated to long-form journalism. Gabrielle was born in Australia but after her studies moved to Japan where she spent years reporting from Tokyo for various newspapers and magazines. Now she resides in Amsterdam. Beyond her editorial work, Gabrielle is also an accomplished author and speaker. She has written several books on design, and she frequently takes part in conferences and seminars around the world.

Tell us about your definition of a good design?

A good design looks good and functions well. Its materials are carefully researched and sourced with the planet in mind. Characteristics like durability, recyclability, purpose, access and aesthetic are seamlessly fused so as to almost be invisible. Good design is so good that is can quite easily be taken for granted.

What attributes do you think makes a design stand out from the rest in Awards such as the IDA?

I think more and more we should be looking at research – how each element of the design process is being dealt with. I don’t want to see words, but genuine differences in how and what we are designing. Design must stop being a part of the problem.

What advice would you give to future IDA entrants?

I think IDA entrants should focus on humility and transparency. Projects should be accurately described and positioned more realistically. No single object can change the world, but small details in how we design and distribute can at least mark the start of a changed culture.

Do you see design an expression of art?

I certainly used to, but I have become much stricter on myself with this. I think the blurry divide between art and design did nobody any favours – it let designers get away with too much and it let artists influence a discipline that needs time and space to create its own narrative. Of course there will always be a crossover and collectible design is a beautiful and valid endeavour, but still I think design can more keep true to itself without gaining an audience or a story from the art world.