One of my favorite definitions of design is as follows:
“Design is a sympathetic resonance, an expressive response to something that calls for attention, but has yet to be fully understood or articulated” (Somerson, 2013, p. 211).
To me, the act of design is an attempt to make sense of our experiences, and in a way, of life itself. It offers a bridge between perceiving and understanding, between desiring and possessing.
As I’ve evolved as a designer in the past year, a source of inspiration has been space and astronomy, as demonstrated through my What I’ve Gots. WIGs such as the Moon as 1 Pixel website, the NASA VR video, and the Chanel Fall/Winter 2017 fashion show utilize design to understand life on a cosmic scale. They evoke a sense of vastness and intrigue, of looking far into the future, and spark feelings of awe and wonder. Even the WIGs that are not space-related share similar themes. For instance, the Wanderlust Travel Journal, Cranes in the Sky music video, as well as My St. Louis evoke feelings of freedom and discovery and explore themes like how the self fits into the larger context of a community, a city, or the world.
My experience of these WIGs results in a shift in core affect towards the active/pleasant realm, as described by Pieter Desmet and Paul Hekkert in the Framework of Product Experience to include feelings like astonishment, curiosity, inspiration, and fascination (p. 58). Because I find products and experiences most desirable when they bring about these emotions, my goal is to design products that do the same for others. Simply said, my mission statement is to harness design to evoke curiosity and wonder about the world we live in, as well as a clearer understanding of how we fit into the broader context of the world or even the universe.
In the Framework of Product Experience, the beauty of use is described as “the beauty one experiences when physically interacting with a product” (Desmet and Hekkert, 2007, p.60). My WIGs incorporated aesthetic expressions such as the use of color, sound, and touch to produce a wonderful and meaningful experience. Many of my WIGs also integrated digital and physical design with the natural environment.
Looking forward to the remaining challenges for Design Survivor, I’d like to distill the inspiration from my WIGs into creating truly desirable products. Many of the past projects I’ve worked on have focused on empowering people by helping them feel more competent (i.e. Walleta, TechMoms, careermatch). For the remaining challenges, I’d like to shift my focus to designing experiences that spark feelings of freedom and fascination through the powerful combination of aesthetics such as color, sound, and nature.
Desmet, P. M. A., & Hekkert, P. (2007). Framework of product experience. International Journal of Design, 1(1), 57-66.
Somerson, R., & Hermano, M.L. (Eds.) (2013). The art of critical making. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley. pp. 210-229
Questions for teaching staff:
- I’m interested in UI/UX and product design, and would love more feedback on how I can improve my design skills to be competitive in this field. I’ve already started compiling all my work into an online portfolio, which you can find at www.shashaxdu.com.
- In the course, I’ve enjoyed designing for underserved populations such as veterans and coal miners. I would love to have a conversation either in class or 1-on-1 about ways in which design can be leveraged to create beauty, efficiency, and meaning for underserved populations in the real world, as design is too often catered for the wealthy and privileged.