I am new to blogging. In this first post, I wish to introduce you to my work as a designer, illustrator, and educator, and the thinking that goes into my work as well as that most other designers. Much of my work is a visual articulation of my understanding of parts of our built world, how it works, the relationships and connections between systems, as well as the design and construction of those systems.
I approach each of my projects, simple or complex, through the design process - problem recognition, problem definition, research, design parameters development, concept generation, evaluation, concept development, more iteration, more evaluation, then finally production or implementation. Most creatives use some variant of this process, and increasingly, it is being used in many sectors of the economy and society for solving problems, including business, engineering, medicine, and even as an approach to living. As Vince Foote, our program head at the School of Design at NC State University told us:
"The design process gives you a way of coping with change."
Two Stanford professors, Dave Evans and Bill Burnett, have been teaching the design process as an open enrollment class to provide students with an approach to living your life. Most importantly, the class stresses the role of failure in design, and in life. The benefits of experiencing failure, and crucially, learning from it, are found in the history of the U.S. space program. Failure in this realm has real and sometimes catastrophic consequences. The astronauts of Apollo 1, Apollo 13, Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia, knew and embraced the risks. They were among a tiny portion of humanity to have ever experienced space travel*, and as Teddy Roosevelt said: “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” The men and women of those missions probably experienced personal failures and successes that granted them moments few of us ever inhabit, but they also helped make aviation, aerospace and perhaps, future travel to the stars, safer and more accessible. They opened the vistas of space and air travel, and the perspectives gained, to more people.
The benefits to our economy, to society, to our culture, to people around the world, are why we do science, why we explore. Life is change, and the design process is one tool we have for shaping the world we have created.
If you're interested in more information on design process, and the built world, one of my favorite sources is "99% Invisible".
* Depending on the source, there have been between 448 and 460 people to flown above the 62 mile threshold marking the edge of space.
For more on Dave Evans' and Bill Burnett's class, see: