I came across these interesting quotes recently during my holiday break, amid various readings, both online and offline. Each stands on their own quite nicely, but resonates even better when you consider them in relation to the fundamental nature of design as practice and philosophy.

A wonderful articulation of the value of “design intuition” (hint: it’s not just making up stuff!)

“Design intuition is really an incredibly powerful tool that we can pull from. When some people think of intuition, they just think you’re making things up. It’s really not. It’s not just this gut feeling that comes out of nowhere. It’s us drawing upon the aggregate of all of our experiences from all these other projects that we worked on and design situations that we’ve encountered that have some similarities.” Simon King, design director at IDEO Chicago

In various personal discussions with peers, the notion of “faith” as elemental to the design process as come up. In many ways, there is a central need for “faith” in designing an optimal solution that cannot be pre-proven as a guaranteed success, but instead demonstrated in its full delivery and usage amid life itself. Alan Lightman’s eloquent description captures that quality when designing something indeterminate and unproven.

“Faith, in its broadest sense, is about far more than belief in the existence of God or the disregard of scientific evidence. Faith is the willingness to give ourselves over, at times, to things we do not fully understand. Faith is the belief in things larger than ourselves. Faith is the ability to honor stillness at some moments and at others to ride the passion and exuberance that is the artistic impulse, the flight of the imagination, the full engagement with this strange and shimmering world.” Physicist Alan Lightman, in “The Spiritual Universe”

Finally, this has become my new standard definition of design, wonderfully capturing the spirit and value, tying back to its underlying premise and inter-related outcomes.

“Design is an expression of optimism. It is a process by which aesthetic, cultural, technical and economic potential is imagined and then translated to give order to objects, services, activities in our environment.” John Marshall, director of MDes Design program at University of Michigan