Posts tagged Design
Learn Through Making
Spring is here in Cincinnati. Maybe...

Spring is here in Cincinnati. Maybe...

Last year I heard Don Norman lecture at the University of Cincinnati. One thing stood out more than anything else he shared. He suggested design can be research and research can be design, that the two don’t have to be separate. In my experience, one usually follows the other, and typically it's research first, then design. My process often looks like this: Do a lot of research, collect a bunch of information, and glean loads inspiration that will inform the design (graphic design in my case). But if design can be research, and research can be design, as Norman suggested, why do I always lead with one over the other?

Something about starting with design (sketching, drawing, making) doesn’t feel right. It’s a lot like a painter beginning with a blank canvas. Where does one start? 

If I’m honest, I usually have an initial hunch at the beginning of a project. Why not follow that intuition? 

That’s certainly what I learned from the Soul Collage class at The Hive. To begin the creative process through intuition; by following the gut more so than the mind, at least to start. It was a fruitful and liberating process. Never before have I created so much in so little time. 

What if I started my design process, as the Soul Collage process, with intuition instead of information? That’s what I ended up doing this week. I began a couple of projects in my sketchbook with markers. It was hard. Several times I wanted to hop on the computer and make a project brief. I thought, “I should probably think about the audience, define my desired results, or see how others have approached similar challenges.” I ignored that urge. With a Crayola marker in hand, I began to make; I started to play. As intuition guided my hand, I observed with delight what showed up on the page. New ideas formed that I hadn’t considered. The imperfections of the medium led to happy accidents. I was able to quickly draw and explore different solutions rapidly. 

My experience in the sketchbook reminded me of what one of my wife’s professors, Sue LaPorte, at CCS used to tell her, “Learn through making.” Which is not unlike what Norman said about design being research and research being design.

In the end, I’m not suggesting one approach over the other (that would be dualistic). In reality, learning happens both through research and making. Whether one starts with research or design is determined case by case. As much as I wish there were, there’s no one size fits all approach. 

And now for the weekly links. 

Enjoy, 

D.J. 


How To Think Like An Anthropologist (Book)
While some argue that a designer should learn how to code, I'd like to learn how to think more like an Anthropologist. 

Architects without Architects (Book)
This quote struck me as incredibly pertinent for being written about a century ago: “the expectation that every new discovery or refinement of existing means must contain the promise of higher values or greater happiness is an extremely naive thought... It is not in the least paradoxical to say that a culture may founder on real and tangible progress.”  –  Johan Huizinga 

Death of Stalin (Movie)
During the credits, the lady in front of me turned around and said I had a wonderful laugh. That's because I couldn't stop laughing. The movie was hilarious. I highly recommended it in combination with the book "A Gentleman in Moscow." 

Kudos to Tyler for suggesting "How To Think Like An Anthropologist" and Megan for helping me hone and communicate my ideas. 

What Is Your Quest?
Thursday morning woods walk turned  wet walk.

Thursday morning woods walk turned wet walk.

 

I continue to linger on the contrast between learning and problem-solving (see last weeks post and Hurry Slowly Ep. 17). There’s less fear and anxiety when equipped with a lens of learning. A kind of childlike naivety opens the mind to different ideas. Problem-solving, on the other hand, implies stress, which can close the door to original pathways.

Good questions are an excellent vehicle for learning. Richard Saul Wurman speaks to that with an interview with Debbie Millman (see link below). He elevates the word “quest," which I appreciate. A quest is a long, arduous search for something (Google's definition). I'm starting to understand that we're all on our journey or quest. What is your quest? There's no better place to look than at the questions we ask others and ourselves every day.

How do I dodge complacency and recognize and reframe my deep-seated biases? That appears to be a quest of mine. At least that's the theme I draw from the links below. That, and initial preparations for my fall UCD course at DAAP. Eek! August will be here in no time. 

Enjoy, 

D.J.


Richard Saul Wurman Interview With Debbie Millman 
Debbie Millman does a good job interviewing Richard. The most compelling segment is toward the end when Debbie goes off script and asks Richard what he wants to talk about. Richard doesn't want to answer Debbie's initial round of questions regarding his past. Richard prefers to talk about the future. What leads me to question the tendency to ask older or successful people to recount their experiences as if they’ve completed their journey? What if instead of asking about the past, we talked about what’s now or what’s next? I tested my new theory on a friend who’s thirty-years older than me. Like Debbie, I dwelled on his past. I caught myself and asked him what’s next? It led to one of the most intimate conversations I’ve had all week.

Everything Easy is Hard Again by Frank Chimero 
Every so often I feel the pressure to learn how to code. While there’s been plenty of false starts, I’ve never made a genuine commitment to the cause. Frank’s perspective, from someone who does code, is encouraging. It’s impossible to keep up with the web, and perhaps the old, slow solutions are enough. I doubt I will leap into code. However, I do hope to find a reliable dev. partner in Cincinnati or beyond. I’m continually receiving requests for web design projects, and I don’t think that trend will fade anytime soon. Reach out if you’re interested or have any tips.

Design Discourse Is In A State Of Arrested Development 
Are we (designers) adding value? What happens when we start to ask that question of our work and others’?: “Our tendency is to focus on techniques and tools and to ignore the deeper questions. And it’s not just that we’re unwilling to examine our failures; we’re just as likely to focus only on the superficial aspects of our successes, too.”

As a design student, how do I deal with my professors teaching outdated tools and methods?
“Use this opportunity to ‘learn how to learn,’ and use resources outside of school to teach yourself the latest tools and techniques. That curiosity and drive to learn on your own will serve you well in a design career.” I found this advice likewise helpful for the professor when it seems impossible to keep up with ever constant change. A focus on the foundations and teaching the students how to learn gives them timeless gifts that they will use beyond the classroom and throughout their careers. 

A Helpful Diagram (for design students)
"Venn and The Art of Being a Design Student."

The Silent Rise of The Female-Driven Economy
“Put very simply, most of the structures, design, technology, and products we interact with are designed with male as the default.” How myopic. It’s time to start asking who will be alienated by what we design?

The Side Effects of the Decline of Men
Instead of learning to code (see Chimero notes above), perhaps it’s more important than ever to build an emotional IQ?: “The researchers suggest the scientific evidence shows that women have on average stronger skills in empathy, communication, emotion recognition and verbal expression, and corporate America is valuing those qualities all the more.”

Kudos to ChrisKathryn, and Meg for link suggestions.