Design to change the world

I believe design can change the world. Design school is a magical place where ideas are king. The works of Bruce Mau and Stefan Segmeister build our foundation. IDEO is an oasis for distant dreams and future resumes. Walking out of college you have the guts to attempt to solve any problem. Your teachers have encouraged you to think about massive problems and attempt a solution. Its a wonderful feeling to know that you have been equipped with the tools to at least confront the major issues that face our world.

It has been a few years since I graced the halls of design school. I still think design can change the world. I still am amazed at the work of big name designers. Some products and some ideas shift the landscape of the world we live in. Yet, I have probably changed the world more through my interactions with the people around me than with the designs I have created. Is that wrong? Our generation wants to know we are doing work that matters. We want to really care about what we are bringing into this world. Elle Luna gave an incredibly inspirational Creative Mornings talk on the topic and has a wonderful book about doing work that matters. I encourage you to pick it up. Although if you really want to dig into the topic you should read Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl.

“The best design is the design you don’t notice.”

Interaction designers change the world in such subtle ways only extreme design nerds will ever notice. It still matters. These tiny details improved the lives of people, if only for a brief second.

Thrive on these moments. Celebrate them when you see them because although they are minute the level of effort may have been large. A designer had to convince a client that it was a good idea. A developer had to take the time to perfect it. The smallest details may have taken a team to perfect. Defining the broad concept is the exciting moment of a design project, but the final 10% of the project is what makes it shine. Doing the production work ensures that your big ideas don’t get lost.

This is what makes having a job unique from college. In college you can sketch the broad strokes, present your concepts, and call it a day. Having the willpower to push through the details day in and day out is what will define your career. Don’t ever lose site of the big idea but don’t ignore the magic of the small details.