Challenge 8: Design Point of View

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Before ES22, my most conscious thinking about design came in
relation to interior decoration. Over the years I had built my vocabulary; from
minimalist to mid-century modern; from clean lines to gallery walls to recessed
cabinetry, that was a world I understood. Expanding from that center of design
consciousness, I would likely profess my point of view to center on simplicity
in all its varieties: in structure, in palette, in flow. Looking back over my
What I’ve Got’s though, I find this penchant for simplicity, though it carries
through in some aspects, has been quite significantly corrupted in favor of the
beautifully complex and eclectic.

This sort of description does not analogize perfectly to the
more digital-based world of this class, but I think complexity carries over somewhat
nicely. In my designs thus far, I have trended towards wanting more depth, knowledge
of a complete experience, and providing as many tools as possible in as compact
a way as possible. I don’t want to make products with a niche function for an
extremely targeted demographic.

Rephrasing and expanding this idea slightly, I desire products
that allow for exploration and growth. A product or tool with a singular,
unflappable, unchanging and unchangeable purpose does not excite me. The most
intriguing to me are the products that have been designed cleanly and
straightforwardly enough that their use can be extrapolated and repurposed
outward from the designer’s original intention. Glass that changes opacity. A
standard, well-fitting pair of pants. A knife. These compactly expansive
products have a core function, but occupy so much more functionality than just
the original design. This is my goal as a designer – to have designs that grow
beyond any capability I conceive of.

If I had to choose one aspect I notice most frequently, or
perhaps most readily, first and foremost appears my fixation, both conscious
and subconscious, on color – the deft manipulation of color, the ability of the
user to control color, and, most simply, variety of color. In my own
assignments for this course, I have always come up quite rapidly against the
roadblock of deciding the color palette of the app or website I am tasked with
envisioning. Color clearly activates my imagination and design sensibility, be
it wonderfully harmonious in a traditional sense, or blending through an almost
chaotic mismatch. I notice color immediately and think of it primarily. I would
also place the inherent variability of a product, as discussed above, in this
category of “frequently noticed,” though not with as much conscious thought.
Placing these two together into one category, I
would classify myself as a tactile designer, regardless of the design medium. I
drift towards the most physical aspects of the product – appearance, mechanics,
etc.  In this way, I would describe my
design point of view as heavily weighted towards to the aesthetic experience of
the object. That being said, my constant push towards depth and complexity tie
in with the concept of product experience and usability. Of course any product
should have an inherent intuitive quality – if not, the design is flawed. But in
my viewpoint, the experience of the product should grow with time and
familiarity. Attaining product mastery excites me as it allows the user and the
product to grow (seemingly) alongside each other, creating what I find to be my
third defining, and yet unspecified trait: the ability to emotionally connect
with a product. The best products have a relationship with their user. If not,
why would anyone use anything more than once?

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