Powered by Change
Just the other day, my grandfather came to me with the most interesting request. He wanted me to burn a CD with all his photos from a recent event. I was dumbfounded not only because my ritzy MacBook Pro lacks a disk drive but also because who uses CDs anymore? I casually informed him of the genius of USB and after a few minutes of Modern Technology 101, I can safely say that he’s never looking back. Our exchange, however, stayed with me long after he’d left. I found it oddly fascinating that this piece of technology, so groundbreaking just a couple of decades ago, had gradually turned obsolete. This obviously boded well for me since nothing makes for better inspiration than an innocent conversation with someone who’s unattached to the subject.
If you were asked to name the most prominent feature of design, what would your answer be? Creativity? Technology? Innovation? While all of these are undeniably vital, the one that takes the cake is dynamism! The design industry is governed by multiple aspects, but the driving force behind its sustained survival is constant change. It comes as no surprise that each generation lives a faster, more chiseled life than its predecessor. To cope with this efficiency, it is only natural to want to update the fundamental equipment of the human race – its technology.
Most people associate design with being creative, when in fact, it is responsive. In many ways, design is surprisingly akin to math and here’s why. In math, there exist infinite problems, but to each problem there is one singular solution. As problems change, so do our solutions. What we do in math is respond to a given situation at hand and remarkably so, design does the same. Early man needed shelter and so we built caves. As we’ve progressed, our need to live in better conditions has heightened. Our requirement from our homes has grown with us. Today, a home is no longer just a place that keeps us safe, it is one that is built with constant power supply, a spacious kitchen, a large dining room, a swimming pool, a fully functioning gym and clubhouse – amenities that are now considered prerequisites. And who knows, maybe 10 years from home automation will become as elementary as having a doorbell. Our lives are changing every second and with that the need to churn out younger, newer solutions has become commonplace and that’s exactly where designers do their best work.
Then comes the ultimate question - Are users the sole targets of this change? No. A couple of years ago, if you wanted to launch a website, all you needed was a web developer. He was your Interface Designer, User Experience Specialist, Content Creator and Coder all packed into one. In just a few short years, each of these tasks has come to be performed by highly skilled individuals, with extensive knowledge on each of the subjects. Design is not only powering change, but also creating new categories of skills. But like any other development, this one comes with its fair share of difficulties. The challenge in dealing with an industry that’s constantly changing is the fight to remain relevant. Trends come and go each year and designers have to find a way to fuse freshness with timelessness. We have to adhere to the ideas of the season and at the same time design for eternity. So how must we deal with this? The trick lies in not being afraid of this change but focusing on building the new. Sure, we might lose something good along the way, but more importantly, we’ll gain something better.