Until the interview, I wasn't really aware of a controversy ...or of the "dumbing down" of patterns. It has taken me a few months, but I think I finally have an answer.
If you are a designer, you want to create something lovely. Writing the pattern is a secondary goal. You probably assume that the knitters you are writing for understand the process and can follow your directions ...or improvise. For the experienced knitter, patterns may serve as a jumping off point with inspiration to take you in new directions. There may be new techniques which challenge and excite you but do not defeat you, even if you end up improvising your way through!
If you are a teacher, you also want to create something lovely, but writing the pattern becomes your main goal. You want the knitter to follow your instructions without confusion, end up with a successful project and learn a few tricks along the way. Since inexperienced knitters may not have a mentor or know how to access information, their pattern needs to be thorough and complete. In my books, this is not "dumbing-down." It is step-by-step skill development.
So back to the interview question - maybe 'dumbing down' is something else entirely? If you have an opinion, I'd love to hear it.
And in the meantime ...there are patterns out there for everyone. I hope you'll check them out and be inspired!
Thanks for the great photo, Nadine :)