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My Design Philosophy

What is Design?

Designers certainly draw upon skills from various disciplines; however, design thinking transcends these specific skills.

I believe design is a mindset. It's a unique approach to problem-solving and a perspective to see the world in a different light. It's rooted in empathy. It's about designing not only for but also with the target audience.

What is design

What design is to me

My Design Approach

My general design approach encompasses 3 major practices—discovery, connection, and integration.

  • Discovery revolves around immersing myself in the design context. I accumulate comprehensive information from diverse sources to create a solid foundation.
  • Connection is about filtering the amassed information from the Discovery. It involves identifying and linking pieces of data to discover patterns and insights.
  • Integration is personally the most exciting. I attempt to merge acquired insight with other concepts and experiences. This practice often leads to bringing seemingly unrelated ideas together, sparking those 'Aha' moments. This is characterized by extensive experimentation. Though failures are frequent, they guide me towards more promising ideas and outcomes.

I used to believe...

When I was new to design, I believed a perfect design process should be linear and structured as a straight line depicted in the picture. Designer could follow a magic formula in all situations to generate the optimal outcome.

But like our world, design is neither simple nor linear.

With growing experience, I realized this perception is far from the truth.

Our world doesn't operate in straight lines, a notion echoed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his books Black Swan and Antifragile. We are surrounded by variables and uncertainties. Today's truths may suddenly become tomorrow's myths.

To craft elegant solutions for this "chaotic" world, we as designers must embrace the idea that design is rarely simple or linear.

Illustration of Nassim Nicholas Taleb by Joe Ciardiello

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, illustrated by Joe Ciardiello

The "Chaotic" Process

The actual design process is “chaotic”. Because each problem is unique, there isn't any one-size-fit-all formula. As designers, our role is to navigate this complexity, adapting for every unique situation.

This often involves revisiting key decisions, balancing priorities, and even resolving conflicts. It is out task to discover clarity in a disordered maze.

Also, design is not always rational. As illustrated in the image, there are intermittent breaks in our design processes. These moments may make the process seems less systematic; nonetheless, they spark creativity. Embracing these instances will drive innovations.

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