Me, a “Designer”

What dimensions of design light my fire? What is the shape of design to me? What do I car about? What is the higher calling for design? Where do my concerns intersect with the role that design can play?

In the brief life that I have already lived as a designer, I have noticed that designers (at least the ones I surround myself with) love to talk in high level. The way designers tackle problems is to take a big step out of it, look around, observe the surroundings, and then take a deep dive back into the problem from another vantage point.

From my observations, across the board, this is generally the method of thinking that the best designers use. But, we (us designers) know all to well that each designer thinks differently, designs differently, and believes in very different ways of designing. So what truly is design?

Design is…

Thinking

Process

Solving problems

Communication

Interaction

Building

Creating

Storytelling

And of course… Designing

One quote to define design that has stuck with me is “Design is Beautiful Solutions” (José Luis Antúnez, philosopher and psychologist). One reason I love this quote is that it was not created by a traditionally trained designer. I believe sometimes it takes an outsider perspective to create more accurate observations, generalizations, and distinctions. Not only is it the shortest definition that I have come across, but it is also the clearest. In a way all designers do what they do because to an extent they are visual thinkers and appreciate beautiful objects, stories, and solutions. Designers solve as well as create.

To me, design is not only beautiful solutions, but a way of merging parts of our brain to interact and view the world in a different way. Specifically, good design merges, in my opinion the two most important part of design, empathy and curiosity, with interaction (visual, tactile, etc.) and reaction, as a result of the creation of tactile and non tactile experiences.

Words that describe my design ethos…

Empathy

Curiosity

Interaction

Communication/ expression

The more the designer knows about who or what he or she is designing for (empathy), the better that design will accomplish its goal. And in order to reach a successful solution, the designer had to be curious enough to ask the right questions and find out the information necessary to take the next steps in his or her process. Now for me this can be very challenging as I am curious about almost everything in this world.

As a result when I am asked about what I want to design, or think about what I should design next, I often do not have a simple answer. Currently I am deeply involved in redesigning how high school students interact with their teachers, other students, and develop their projects. What drives me in this space is that I personally suffered from the outdated, slow, unmotivating, and often unnecessary aspects of “modern” education before I came to college. Despite the countless articles, studies, and experiments conducted on changing the classroom workflow and student learning styles, this system is extremely resistant to change often adopting the “it’s been working fine so why should we change” approach. We all know too well what happens if we adopt that kind of thinking to our everyday lives and our relationships. Education needs a shock, some type of push out of its complacency. It will take years and many minds before we see widespread reform.

After thoughts

Design is vast and vague. Everyone is a designer, yet only some people are designers. Everything is designed, yet not everything has been designed. Many good designers spend their lives making their world and the world of others simpler. They strive to find a balance between simplicity, beauty, and clarity. What sets a designer apart from another human is that when we look at something that is designed well to communicate a message or invoke a reaction simply, we can see past all that and understand what really went behind the creation of this “simple” and clear solution. The same goes for speaking. Public speakers who seem to give effortless and inspiring talks can do so because they know so much about their topic (often years of knowledge and development). It’s easy to see why the best designs can often go unnoticed by the common eye and mind.

“One might say, that the path to simplicity is quite complex”

Wonder Lab_10.08.16

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