Brooklyn Notebook: anti-guidebook.


The Brooklyn Notebook was directly inspired by a challenge Hara sets in Designing Design: a guidebook to New York City that does not tell the reader where to go, but rather incites his curiosity so that he can discover the city himself. (Hara, 376) Focusing on Brooklyn for practical reasons, I made a notebook that had two pages devoted to each neighborhood in the borough. Blank apart from the covers and the neighborhood names atop the pages, the notebook reveals how little we know our own city through the simple listing of the neighborhoods, familiar and not.

Blanking out content essentially means leaving the content out: in the words of Kenya Hara it means offering “not a message, but an empty vessel.” (Hara, 241) The content is to come, generated by the viewer; the designer provides the frame. Most simply, blanking out content allows the power of possibility. A genre/format that is void of typical content can allow the viewer’s fantasy to fly: what might he fill in the void with?

As I mention above, it was Kenya Hara who first opened me up to the world of blanking as an act of ANTI. In Designing Design, again and again he talks of the power of white space as well as the need to incite the viewer’s curiosity rather than telling him what to think. (If Hara is a counterpoint to the Dutch school, it’s amazing to fold him in, through his own explicit formulation, into ANTI.)

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