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The designer’s power

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Over a late afternoon coffee, a fellow designer asked me “how can we have power as designers” — in the context of “those big decisions” being made by non-design leaders in an organization. Well, it’s a common question and I address it the following way, by sussing out the nuances of power, authority, and influence.   First of all — All designers have power. Our power comes from our...

Thrown into the mess…

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I always say there is no perfect design. Likewise, there is no perfect design situation. You are always thrown into a mess of communications and deliveries. This is not meant to be a judgment — it’s simply inherent to being a designer. There is a “thrown-ness” to it, if you will.   Of course, we are taught the “right way” or “proper set up” of a design engagement in university classes — like...

Reflect and Resolve

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The act of being a professional designer is a process of iteration in itself — demanding ongoing feedback from peers & clients, of course, but also continuous critical self-examination, guided by an attitude of optimistic, if somewhat grudging, improvement. Design is an art of improving things — changing existing situations into preferred ones, as Herb Simon famously declared in his...

Design is an art of decision-making

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I knew of Herb Simon somewhat before I went to study design at Carnegie Mellon (CMU) but only as “factoid” bits of info: Nobel Laureate in economics, contributions to AI, legendary scholar par excellence. Once at CMU I finally dug into his writings, particularly “Sciences of the Artificial”, a definitive treatise which articulates a theory of design based upon “changing existing situations to...

Levels of design craft

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One of the most critical, even inherent, aspects of design is the notion of craft — shaping a material with masterful familiarity towards a benchmark of quality, based upon a dedication to refining the details so the result is worthy of personal pride and general appreciation. Craft is what makes design truly a maker’s profession, delivering exemplary artifacts and products — something tangible...

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