A Small Chat on Design

A brief chat on the meaning of design, on a Sunday night with cellier. Translated into English.

Ryo Lu says:
There exist four states of matter: gas, solid, liquid and plasma.

Design is the transition of matter between states. Making matter into states that are understandable by different stakeholders. Every state transition requires distinct kinds of energy and mechanisms.

“Design is the movement of thoughts between abstraction, representation, and execution.”

The problem is, even if we’re able to transform matter into their optimal state, the atoms are fixed and unchanged.

Being a designer, your task is to transform matter into a series of ordered states, but you’re unable to change the matter itself. You also need energy to propel the transition, which aren’t necessarily in your control.

cellier says:
Right, [so the designer selects the right] energy, mechanism, and the definition of ideal state.

Ryo Lu says:
Yep, that’s about right.

So back to the initial question. If we try to use “design” to fix everything, what can we accomplish? Nothing.

Design indeed connects every state, but the transition itself isn’t entirely dictated by design. The unchangabe elemental properties of matter determines its ideal form. You, as a designer, is the catalyst of the reaction that leads matter into an ideal state. The energy required to do so is at your disposal, but isn’t in your control.

This is how the universe works. Ideologies, methodologies and design thinking simply can’t change the universe.

cellier says:
Now I feel powerless. Life is empty and meaningless.

Ryo Lu says:
But if you believe your ideologies are mature enough, you’re free to create your own universe.

But if you can’t even be a good catalyst, then the universe you create will be void. These words also apply to myself.

cellier says:
I understand what you’re trying to say. We should cheer up…

Ryo Lu says:
Now, the distinction between art and design becomes clear.

Artists create their own universes. Designers try to make the universe we live in a little better.

To create your own universe, you define your own matter, states, and you acquire the necessary energy. It’s easy for some people and hard for most.

But at least everything originates from you. It will be special, but it will also be lonely and miniscule.

cellier says:
Being part of the transformation of the real universe is tiresome. I believe I’ll do better in my own universe, not the real one. I won’t become a great artist, but I can be concious of its existence. I suspect that you switch between the two, and that’s where your internal conflicts come from.

Ryo Lu says:
Of course the two universes can coexist.

cellier says:
Kinda like bringing your own universe with you to work on the real one.

Ryo Lu says:
Yep. But we always neglect the existence of our own universe.

Now I want to put more energy to my parallel universe, then build a portal to the real one.

In the real universe, you’re not cultivating creative thinking, but practicing your ability to execute. How to efficiently use the energy at your disposal, to push towards the ideal state that you have determined. If you feel frustrated, it simply means that you aren’t strong enough. That’s why you need to continue pushing boundaries.

In your own universe, you can do whatever you want. You don’t have to care about results. You can try to create new elements, and new rocket fuel. Once you finally accomplished something that makes you happy, maybe it will be easier to change the real world.

Apr 10, 2016, 8:53 PM.

If you want to chat with me, add me on Telegram @ryolu or WeChat @ryokun.

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