Design as a Human Endeavour

You’ve already heard the news; handwriting is on the way out.

Finland has announced that they are phasing out cursive handwriting in schools, America has already started and many other countries are having similar thoughts. You may not think handwriting is important, but grasp this: you can find it inside your wallet, and it defines who you are.

Handwriting is just another casualty in the battle of the arts. In our post-industrial computerised world the skills of drawing, sketching and painting have been sacrificed for the stark efficiency of the computer. These skills have been pushed firmly to the side and are now relegated to an art class. Do the majority of us even need design skills in our world where ‘good design’ is simply picking out a document template?

In his iconic Stanford Commencement Address, Steve Jobs spoke of how he dropped into a calligraphy class which he thought would have no practical use in his life. He emphasised how important this knowledge became when his team designed the typography for the first Macintosh in 1984. Apple, the company he led as a CEO for many years, was built around creating well designed products, and more than 30 years on – when mass market electronics are sold on razor-thin profit margins – Apple sells their iPhone 6 with a profit margin of up to 71 percent.

Great design is a critically important business strategy in a world where uninspiring products can be manufactured offshore for next to nothing, however creative thinking isn’t learnt in a business strategy class. As a student of both the Steiner school philosophy and the public/state system, I am lucky to have seen both sides of the arts divide in education (some schools emphasise it more than others). Sir Ken Robinson said we are more often than not educated out of creativity. His lecture “How schools kill creativity” is the most popular TED talk ever, receiving over 23 million views on a lecture.

Any idea that is shared must be presented in some form or another; presentation is not something to scoff at. The medium may not be the message, but design can dramatically change how a message is received. Years on from my Steiner education I find the creative upbringing has certainly helped me, even in areas that are completely unrelated such as science and mechatronics.

Art and design may not be given the same status as mass-employable skills for high paying jobs, but their value for the self as well as wider culture are impossible to measure. Even though signatures themselves are being phased out, when the technology is off and the power is out, what will remain of your identity?

Jake Coppinger, 2015

Further Reading

Kahney, L. (n.d.). Jony Ive.

Knight, C. and Glaser, J. (2012). Why Subtle Typographic Choices Make All The Difference – Smashing Magazine. [online] Smashing Magazine. Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2015].

Luckerson, V. (2014). Apple’s $649 iPhone 6 Reportedly Costs $200 to Make. [online] Available at:[Accessed 24 Feb. 2015].

Parker, I. (2015). Jonathan Ive and the Future of Apple – The New Yorker. [online] The New Yorker. Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2015].

Ricci, C. (2015). Keyboard classes take over from handwriting lessons in Finland’s schools. [online] The Age. Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2015].

Robinson, K. (2015). How schools kill creativity. [online] TED. Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2015].

Shapiro, T. (2015). Cursive handwriting is disappearing from public schools. [online] Washington Post. Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2015].

Shea, D. (2015). CSS Zen Garden: The Beauty of CSS Design. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2015].

YouTube, (2015). Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2015].