What Inspires Me

In this ‘loosely-designed people-weopley’ human-centred design organisation called IDEO, I‘ve stood witnessed to countless ideas and How Might We challenges get transformed into compelling experiences and products through the work of my fellow designers. It’s sometimes astonishing how Post-its, Sharpies and lots of ‘what if’ banter can lead to something amazing. At IDEO, we put the user at the centre and we learn to empathise with their needs through the use of numerous tools and build from there. But beneath the veneer of all these frameworks and processes, it is still the designer who puts everything together. So for me, I am curious about what makes each designer tick.

I first wrote this post three years ago on my personal development portfolio while studying for my Masters in Seoul, South Korea with Samsung Art & Design Institute (SADI). I found myself constantly asking myself that same question on how or where we source our energy and inspiration from. Today, it is a good inflection point for me after being a designer now for over a decade.

My first interaction with IDEO through Mike Nutall in 2011 while in South Korea at SADI. I’m that other non-Korean on the right, behind the guy with his arms folded.

MARCH 2012
It’s the midpoint of my first semester at SADI and I’ve been thrilled to be learning about different fields of design. Having learned new jargon coined by masters of the field such as Liz Sanders (MakeTools), Bill Moggridge (IDEO), Don Norman (User-centered design expert), Engine and Cooper (both Service Design agencies), delivered through my highly esteemed professors all have provided great insights to to establish what the future holds being a designer in the 21st century.

The gist of it all really goes down to be distilled and I conclude that design is has gone way beyond from being functional to having to evoking a similar emotional response from every user that engages the intention of a design. We have to recognize that every user is different (understanding contexts and cultural aspects etc.) in which each individual holds different expectations to design. The ultimate aim is to first understand what is it to be human and then gain clearer insights as to how to interact with them. Thankfully both users and designers are human, so there’s a great leveling plane to begin with!

Such tools, frameworks, and methodologies are after all created by humans for humans, user to user. This is probably the best justifications for my cause to further my knowledge and education — to know myself better and to understand the user. The keyword is emotion and the two words I find the most powerful is love and passion, they are simply the greatest source of my inspiration. For me I draw the energy from the people around me who personifies these two words and this is how group them:

Quite literally, my love ones. They are my partner, family and close friends.

The heroes of their trade and what they stand for. Because what they stand for — can change the world.

Just like how this man below did…

Like what you read? Give Webster Tai a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.