My Design Philosophy
The journey of finding who I am as a designer.
In Spring, 2022 It was a pleasure to take a Design Theory class by Erik Stolterman. This class has helped me start thinking about who I am as a designer, what design means to me, how personal life and your surroundings impact your life as a designer and many such things. I feel this is just the draft of my design philosophy and this will evolve as I experience more things in life and as I grow as a designer.
I would not have been able to write this piece at the start of the semester for sure and it was very new and scary when I tried to think about my design philosophy at that time. But I surely have some idea about my design philosophy now. Every designer has a design philosophy and I had one too, but it was not explicit enough and blurry. While going through different activities in class and the assignment helped me uncover the hidden things and paint a clear picture of my design philosophy.
I feel every designer should reflect on this and it will help you grow as a designer, it helps you understand what works for you and helps you gauge where you are right now and where you want to be as a designer and a person and how could you reach there, etc.
Getting the right design and the design right 
If I answer that in simplest terms design to me is solving problems and not any problems but the right problem.
“Designing is plan-making.”, “Learning what the problem is IS the problem.” — Rittel .
As Rittle in his paper, The Reasoning of Designers mentioned that “learning what the problem is the problem” is a very critical thing to think about as a designer because there are thousands of products that failed because designers did not solve the right problem.
For me solving the right problem has been an important aspect of design from the beginning and this comes from my computer science background. I have always loved problem-solving but I always used to question why am I doing this, who is gonna use this, do they need this, how are they going to use it, and many such interrogative questions about the things I was trying to solve.
While reading through “The lean startup” by Eric Ries one thing that stuck with me was, that it’s okay to fail because each failure gives you rich learning and that is the outcome of the failure. Finding the right problem is also a journey you won’t find out what people want until you execute something and let it out. If you keep asking questions it will not lead you to the right answers, but building something and failing at it can lead you to the right answers.
“The creative person isn’t bound to accept conventional wisdom. Everything is amenable to reconsideration.” — Serraino, P. 
As a designer, I try to be flexible with things around me and I do not fear failing at things I do this & this helps me reconsider not sticking to conventional ways of thinking and executing things.
The five tenants of my design philosophy
- Good Design is beautiful
For me, aesthetics has always been a priority probably because I started my design journey as a graphic designer, and as a graphic designer, one job that you have to do is to make things beautiful and make things that engage the audience because things that look good sells well. Over time the meaning of beauty has also changed for me. It’s not just making things look good. now beauty for me is aesthetic, functional, and unexpected and things that bring delight to the people are beautiful to me.
2. Consistency is a molecule in design
Transitioning from computer science to graphic design and now the product design all of them have contributed to who I am as a designer today. In computer science, we were taught to write the code in a consistent structure using methods and functions so that it’s easy to troubleshoot and easy for someone to read through your code. While I was working as a graphic designer I was taught to design things that stick to brand guidelines and look cohesive in different forms such as packaging, social media post, or a website banner.
“Systems thinking is a context for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static snapshots.” — Chapman, Jonathan 
The things that I had learned stayed with me when I started my journey as a product designer and they started making sense even more because now I was designing for multiple form factors ( mobile & web ). As Chapman mentioned in the above quote when you design for systems consistency is even more important because now you have to think about the interrelations of different things and weave a seamless experience.
3. Details are not the details they make the design
Honestly, this is something that I learned very recently when I took the experience design class and I also wrote an article on microinteractions for foundations of HCI class. One of the major thing that I learned was how tiny things comes together to form a composition and that leads to a certain experience. And how it could lead to a very different experience even if we make slight changes. For instance, pressing a lock button twice on iPhone opens up this payment page and it is a wonderful experience because someone thought about the context of the use that people will be standing in a line or they might be holding multiple things when they are paying at the store and they designed this quick minimal microinteraction leveraging the existing power button.
So this is one thing that I admire about details in design and it is one of my guiding principles of design because tiny things make big difference.
4. Design is not just about making things pretty
“This intrinsic value is what you are taught to recognize and evaluate in an art appreciation class, or a literature class, or during a wine tasting. When we are shown how different components are interrelated, how structure, form, material, texture, smell, taste, and so on fit into the overall theme or purpose of the thing we are evaluating, we learn to see and appreciate the intrinsic value of the design itself. We can become a connoisseur. To be a connoisseur of something means that you can discern, understand, and appreciate subtleties in a design” -Nelson & Stolterman 
Design is not just about making beautiful things, and I also don’t believe in beauty at all costs, beauty at all costs is actually dumb. This is something I have learned after attending classes in design school that design is much more than making beautiful things. While reading through the chapter “The Splendor of design” I really got hooked on the concept of design as a conveyor of soul that adds value and meaning to people’s lives. Good design is a process of deeply understanding the users and the context and then creating a product or a service that addresses the unmet needs of users. Design is adding value to the existing product, adding value to users, and adding value to the business.
5. Design must evolve.
This is coming from my personal experience of working in the industry as well as from one of the readings we had in class “Meaningful Stuff: Design That Lasts.” By Chapman, Jonathan. So there are two angles to this one is making a design that scales with the growth of the users and making designs that do not break a lot when you introduce it to a slightly different target audience. The second one is more from a broader perspective and designing things that last because products that do not last have a lot of environmental impacts when we have to discard them and recycle them. I was also curious about timeless designs in digital space and this is something that in my list at this moment.
There is one more angle to this, design is never finished and it evolves as we humans evolve. Design is all about iterations and moving one step ahead toward perfection but the life and needs of people move so fast that perfection is just a dream that designers have at the same time we know the fact that making things perfect is not the goal.
My Design Philosophy
This was my journey to discover who I am as a designer and I realized that a lot of the things built up over a long time and those things got evolved after attending the design school, this course helped me uncover things that I knew but they were implicit but now that I am more aware of this I can think consciously about them and work on them to improve myself as a designer and also apply them when I design things now. I’m so thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to explore design from so many different perspectives and now having taken this course, I am walking away with a clearer understanding of what design is, my design style, and what design personally means to me.
To summarise it in one sentence I would say my design philosophy is
“Design That Matters”
 Rittel, Horst W. J. The Reasoning of Designers. Stuttgart: IGP, 1988. Print.
 Sketching User Experiences: Bill Buxton
 Serraino, P. (2016). The creative architect: Inside the great midcentury personality study. The Monacelli Press, LLC.
 Chapman, Jonathan. Meaningful Stuff: Design That Lasts. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2021.
 Harold G. Nelson; Erik Stolterman, “The Splendor of design,” in The Design Way: Intentional Change in an Unpredictable World, MIT Press, 2012, pp.191–200.