First of all, what exactly have you been doing these past 40 years???
Secondly, maybe your work was purely formalistic, lacking any kind of substance. Don't try to tell me there aren't designers out there whose work does have substance.
Thirdly, maybe it's not that Design is dead, but rather that you've played out your inspiration and have nothing new to offer. Don't go blaming Design for that, there are still plenty of people out there doing incredibly innovative work.
In general, I no longer buy all this "there is nothing new" nonsense. If you really look at history that way, then there's been nothing truly new in Art or Design for about the past 2500 years. It's a completely meaningless argument that adds nothing worthwhile whatsoever to discourse on the visual arts. Furthermore, every time there are technological advancements, they advance the visual arts and the subjects and issues they express.
Obviously, I have a lot personally invested in Art & Design. If I didn't, this blog wouldn't even exist. Therefore, if I cared what he thinks, I might be inclined to find his comments personally insulting. What have I been doing for the past 20 years, if it's all "unnecessary?" Well, I have my own motives that I won't bore you by explaining, deeply rooted in my own personality and drive.
I have profound respect for the builders of the animal kingdom--the bees, beavers, and birds. The simplicity, efficiency, and economy of their work has an elegance unmatched by human artisans, who get far too bogged down in their own self-consciousness and egotism. But any halfway complex computer modeling program, with the right parameters entered, can come to the most efficient solution. Efficiency is not why I'm in this field, nor is efficiency Art.
What sets human creations apart is our ability to anthropomorphize inanimate objects--our tools, accoutrements, environments--and imbue them with a sense of beauty. That's our gift. We have the ability to make our world a more beautiful, intriguing, and delightful place to be, and contemplate and debate what we've done or can do to make it so and why.
I can think of few things less "unnecessary," from my perspective, anyway. In fact, there are enough reasons to consider how humans suck; I'd like to think there are some positive things about our species, too.
©2008, Ryan Witte