Looking back on my previous posts, I find that aesthetically, I am drawn to designs that are clean, simple, and sometimes, bright. For instance, the sneaker Hunter and I designed (Challenge 6), as well as my past What I’ve Got posts, embraced minimalist design that is streamlined or structural in silhouette. Meanwhile, my entries for Ketla (Challenge 1) and the pillowcase (Challenge 3) incorporated bright color accents to add visual interest and a more playful, energetic flair.
These factors stem from a personal conviction in remaining grounded, simple, and true to myself even though I live in an era of overstimulation, excess, and materialism. This is very much reflected in my design philosophy: in a world dominated by bells, whistles, and expensive logos, I believe that excellent design can be found in the simplest (but most intentional) of decisions, like a gorgeous typeface or flattering cut. Meanwhile, adding bold accents is my way of retaining individuality and poking fun of the polar opposite extreme, which is a world tending towards ubiquity (see: normcore).
Emotionally, I am drawn to products and companies that have strong narratives, oftentimes embracing the zeitgeist of some era of history or design. An added plus for me is when such designs are able to comment on these societal forces, and actively shape them.
For example, in Challenge Half, I loved researching the various historical and cultural meanings of the cable knit sweater—and reading about Coco Chanel’s savviness about social trends, and her visionary approach to fashion. Similarly, I posted about Ralph Lauren’s SS16 collection because it so beautifully evokes the preppy Americana brand RL is so famous for, and I posted the video about architecture in China because I was fascinated by how national anxieties and contradictions could manifest (and be reconfigured) in buildings. Also, I really enjoyed the honey parallel tasting because I was drawn to the stories behind different honeys.
A couple of challenges arise here. Can I adapt my own design philosophy when designing for users who might not agree with it? How do I use my own design as a way to pick up on cultural cues and engage with, or even predict, these trends in some way? And when I design for situations where there are limited resources, how can I maintain both visual desirability and a voice? For instance, I struggled with this in the sustainability challenge, which required me to prioritize functionality and sustainability over aesthetics. Is aesthetic beauty and narrative (i.e., strong branding) a privilege for those who can afford it? My goal is to fight against this common assumption.
The form of the above collage is clean, simple, and bright. The content is meant to suggest a sense of “vision” and hyper-awareness of one’s social context. (The second image is a screen cap from the dystopian movie Her, one of my favorite movies, which comments heavily on society’s evolving dependence on technology and the alienation that results from it.)