What no one tells you about design
A career in Design is synonymous to the 2016 US Presidential election – people don’t really know what it’s all about, yet they think they know enough to pass judgment. We’re taught in Design School (yes, that’s a real place) that design constitutes identifying a problem and then offering an innovative solution. What they don’t teach you is that problems are everywhere. And so is design. It’s in the way your device is currently displaying this information. It’s in how this font is legible enough for you to read what’s been typed. It’s even in something as mundane as the knife a chef uses to cut onions. How? Because everything around you is a problem waiting to be solved.
I’m a graphic designer fresh out of college and never in my wildest dreams had I thought this is where I'd end up. To be honest, I'd never given much thought to the concept of design. Till about 4 years ago, a logo was synonymous with a brand name and cool fonts were synonymous with Comic Sans and Papyrus – the two most hated typefaces in Graphics, by the way. It was only after I began my degree that I learnt how vital good design is. And more importantly, how omnipresent it is.
Once, when I was a kid, my teacher happened to ask the class ‘Who all hate math?’ A majority of the bunch raised their hands (no mom, I wasn’t one of them), to which she said ‘Could you please count the number of students who haven’t raised their hands?’ and when they did, she said ‘So you just used math, didn’t you?’ The class nodded yes as she continued, ‘So why do you use it if you hate it? Something like math is so fundamentally necessary that it cannot be avoided or ignored. Mankind fails to survive without it. So you can either love it or hate it, but it is a part of your life just as much as the air you breathe.’ Of all the profound things I’ve learnt in school, this one just stuck with me. Design is exactly like math. It is essential and almost impossible to live without. Sure, some may be good at it and some may just suck, but design is a integral part of our lives whether we like it or not.
They say design can’t be taught. You’re either born with it or you’re better off being a boring accountant somewhere. I don’t agree. If design is all about problem solving, I believe there’s a designer in each one of us. If you’ve ever sharpened the other end of a pencil just to have another sharp lead when one becomes blunt or dipped your nail polish-laden fingernails in cold water just to dry them off faster (it’s a great trick, try it sometime) then you’re a designer. Your discoveries may not be groundbreaking but surely, you were able to identify a problem and offer an ingenious solution. That’s how most great inventions start out anyway. Or do I have to remind you of how Vodka came into being?