We designers serve others

You know, I love the joy on someone’s face when a result of my work is shipped. It’s a priceless remuneration, the most resonant way of saying “thank you”. I think as designers, we’ve got a responsibility to provide a service to individualities, societies, to each other, to humanity.

Radek Szczygiel
May 7, 2019 · 4 min read
People crossing a street.
People crossing a street.

However, the path very often turns to be rough. There’s a lot of obstacles to deal with to make something just good. In between 18th and 19th centuries when the Industrial Revolution took place, and technological progress allowed to manufacture faster and in a high volume, the Three Pillars of Design were defined:

  • Voice of Business. How do you as a designer respond to a company’s business model to make a product relevant?
  • Voice of Technology. How do you design to create something within a budget and yet well made?
  • Voice of Customer. How do you answer people’s needs? How do you solve people’s problems? How effectively do you solve those problems? How do you design to embrace individualities? How do you design for people to enrich their lives?

That looks like a challenge. And it is. You see, I think we as designers need a tremendous amount of self-discipline to be good in what we do. Answering those questions above, facing them in the most successful way, requires a thing that I find the most precious quality of us designers, a thing that we constantly tend to learn — humility.

Humility — ענוותנות, Hebrew “anavah” — a sign of strength and purpose, not weakness.

We often mislead humility with weakness, whereas it’s a strength. We can be highly skilled specialists, using the most advanced tools, but a result of our work comes from a process, from our relationship with whom we collaborate. Way before a product meets customers, we designers meet business stakeholders and engineers, people responsible for revenue and the fact that our ideas can come to life. That’s the place for us designers serving others with humility which is represented by:

  • ability to listening
  • not stealing somebody’s air
  • being aware that sometimes we may be wrong

There’s a beauty in the service of being responsible for giving a form to business intention and implementing solutions. By being designers we tend to brilliantly communicate however by asking questions. So much can be unheard when we’re not attentively listening to barely formed, fragile thoughts that have got a chance to be a foundation for a fabulous solution. During ideation and execution, any contribution is a new point of view, that can pivot a project in a way more beneficial to a final result, therefore we designers are expected to create a convenient environment for others to collaborate. And finally, constant learning means being ready to fail and seek an outcome from it to bring the value to our teams, to a project, and therefore to customers.

Sadly, very often customers can be victims of design, instead of being beneficiaries of it. Unfortunately, we stick at looking for a balance between a look and function. Obviously, a product looking good but having a very poorly solved functionality can be ugly. In the same time, we often try to believe that the thing that predominantly matters is functionality. But we very rarely ask the question:

“What do we want people to feel?”

You see, designing is three dimensional. I believe that we designers do what we do in the service of aesthetics, function, and feelings that someone, somewhere had using a product we designed. Do you remember the smell of just unboxed product that you had waited for a while? Do you remember the joy of the unboxing? Do you remember the texture of that shiny new product? Do you remember the sound of taking off a foil? We forget what a company did and said to convince us to buy their product, but we never forget how they made us feel. Those are outcomes of unreasonable intentions that are far from being just aesthetically and functionally correct. These are outcomes of the amount of care that was invested in every meticulously considered detail. The amount of care invested in expertise and research to find a solution, creative direction, material, manufacturing process that let translate reckless ideas into something unremarkable, something that will definitely be discerned but barely articulated.

Voice of Environment.
There’s one other thing that wasn’t mentioned in the Three Pillars and is ever so important. We designers, we also serve the environment. We more than anyone have a civic and moral responsibility in creating solutions, choosing materials, tools, and processes that will serve not only business, technology, and customers but also our common, the only one home we have — the planet. Our decisions are made within minutes but often impact years to come. An ignorance can turn into evil. But yet proactivity can avoid disasters and resolve problems. With deliberate solutions, we can address the quality of life of future generations.

Being a designer requires maturity, a self-awareness. We’ve got a power to build, to enrich, to embrace. We carry the responsibility of connecting creative voices. We can make trustworthy room for ideas incubation. We can shape the future.

To serve others is delightful, isn’t it?

The Supersymmetry is a project aiming popularisation of Design as a field familiar and accessible to everyone.

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The Supersymmetry

Design beyond stereotypes.

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