May the force of DESIGN be with you

Some say design is about problem-solving, but it’s much more. Design is like the Force.

WTF! Has this writer lost his (obvious) Star Wars loving mind. Well, young Jedi Knights, hear me out.

In Star Wars mythology, the Force is an energy field created by all living things, that surrounds us and penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together. I believe design is very much like the Force. It too drives the world around us and encompasses so much of our lives in ways we may not realize.

Think about your morning shower. Consider the bar of soap or shower gel container in your hand. That tangible item once existed in the mind of a designer who thought about the experience of using soap and the interaction with it. The designer wondered, “How should the soap be carved? Will it be easy to hold? How should its texture feel? How will the scent affect me?” The designer also considered the size and shape of the shower gel bottle and if the product is easy to squeeze from it.

Now, think about other items in your bathroom. Observe the curvature and smoothness of the sink, the patterns within the tiles, and the flooring beneath your feet. In fact, if you think of items throughout your home, such as furniture, appliances, and artwork, they too began in the mind of a designer. The things surrounding you are part of your personal outer space – your universe – bound together by design.

You, as the Jedi Knight, have collected experiences represented by these particular items which are styled, colored, scented, and shaped for your environment. The packaging and products you use, utensils, drinking cups, and plates, are extensions of someone else’s influences, training, emotions, and thoughts. Everything you interact with that contributes to your life is design.

Design holds our world together, but good design gives your world greater potential. Writer and Designer Debbie Millman, host of the Design Observer podcast, Design Matters, recently gave a talk for Creative Mornings. She spoke about The Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Graduated College. Some things she said resonated with me, including:

Design is not about Design.
Design is about a whole bunch of things that ultimately results in design.

We need to have an understanding of anthropology, psychology, economics.
We need to be able to understand, from a cultural anthropological view, why we in the world we are in right now.

If you agree with Ms. Millman, then you believe that, as designers, we have to be part behaviorist, data analyst, and anthropologist. So, if design is about the study of people, then we must connect with each other and be a part of the Force which binds all living things together. Only then can we truly understand others’ needs and desires. Only then can we design for each other.

Think about the people with whom you come in contact – their faith, values, and beliefs. Reflect upon the friendships and acquaintances you form. We influence each other. We connect with each other because we consume similar experiences – the taste of a juicy burger, the sight of brilliant green street signs and flashing amber traffic lights. These are all from designers, engineers, and architects. At the core is creation. Design is all around us.
We can learn about design principles and fundamentals, but when we open our minds, immerse ourselves, interact with people, discover their thoughts and inspirations, and apply those ideas to our own designs, we elevate ourselves and others to a greater creative potential, the Force in the universe.

And…may the Force be with you.