I'm back, in NYC, and the future of design?

So, a ton has happened since whenever I wrote something last. Major milestones:

  1. Graduated
  2. Got a job
  3. Moved to NYC

So, now I'm here, working for an awesome company with some fellow alumni, to try and solve some interesting, hairy problems. I'm also learning a ton of relevant skills that tend to cover more of the tactical targets of a digital consultancy, like how to keep very very very detailed wireframes in order, how to create xd spec documents (oh the joy of meticulous design), and a reality check on how fast-paced New York city is. I constantly feel exhausted, but excited and exhausted (which is better than either of the alternatives). I'm excited for whatever project I'll be assigned to next, and am so thankful for the affordances and values Moment shares with its small but unique community- like supporting learning outside the office, and encouraging us to apply to speak at conferences.

I'd love to start off on my *knock on wood* new-found promise to actually write more often with a summary and reaction to a talk I went to this evening through AIGA/NY. Daniel Stillman posed the question: Is Design Too Important To Leave To Designers?

...great question.

His answer, much like my own, went as follows: No.... ok, well, probably not... ok well, it's complicated. It is complicated though as you start to think about all the different types of organizations that could benefit from design and all their different structures and values and chains of command and ways they make decisions, and the list goes on. 

One of the many opinions from people he knew the shared reactions of his discussion topic.

ps.... love the use of "nons" to describe non-designers. Really creates an "us v. them" feel. (I hope you can feel the sarcasm radiating from that statement.

Long story short, he agreed that if everyone in organizations knew a little more about design, designers themselves would probably get to be included in more of the important questions that frankly, aren't currently left up to designers- so decisions could be made more holistically, as teams, instead of through the process of segmented decision-making (business people make the "business" decisions, designers make the "design" decisions... etc.)

^^ That's what makes real, impactful, holistic design so freakin' hard.

He goes on to discuss how design is valuable in all stages of product production, and how users share some responsibility as consumers to understand the costs of their consumption (I'd say, both in terms of resource use/sustainability and also socially... knowing what they're giving up in exchange for cheaper products and services, like their privacy, power of choice, etc.)

Overall, it was a very refreshing talk. It was reminiscent of the lessons we were constantly being told of at the Institute of Design. I miss those broad talks, the constant reminders of our duty as designers to move beyond production and consider how we might integrate into companies and make the most change. About how to challenge orthodoxies and the nature of corporate values (not the pretty nice ones they put in pamphlets, but values in terms of priorities and pecking order) to build empathy for the people they're building products and services for. It's a bit radical.. and it takes a good balance of cynicism, respect, humility, patience, and charisma to pull off a successful change, but hopefully I'm working up the knowledge and patience to get there one day.

I'll end this with a question for you- the same question he left us with. What role does the future designer play in design? I really liked the 'midwife' example- where we aren't 'birthing' design, but rather helping to bring it to life.