Orbiting in and out of a slippery discipline
Design as a discipline has been part of my life since I was a little kid. Living with a trained designer since I was about 7, I became aware of its meaning quite early on.
Or so I thought.
Even though I didn’t graduate in design, I did end up entangled in some interaction design work and eventually started pursuing my PhD in Design—or rather escaping my own insecurity as a … designer (?).
Becoming design is a quest, a space for exploring, questioning, and discovering design in me, and myself in design. It’s both verb and noun, as is the word design.
This is not a space for rigorous academic endeavours, but rather an opportunity to bring some concepts down to earth, to make them more approachable or intelligible. It is a space to find meaning for the still-becoming design work done by so many designers—or non-designers—in fields orbiting around service design, strategic design, and sometimes even interaction design. And, naturally, design research.
A publication such as this one is the formalisation of my own thinking about design, and will try to answer, not too formally or linearly, some questions that keep popping up in my mind, such as “is this design (related to any of my work)?”, “where does design work begin and end?”, “who is doing design (and who should)?”, “if it’s not visual, is it design?”, “if all I do is research, is it design?”. Last but not least, and perhaps the most important and daunting of them all, “(why) does it even matter?”.
In Becoming design, much like Penelope weaving while waiting for Ulysses, I will buy myself time while searching for meaning in action (in writing).
“Design is a field of concern, response, and enquiry as often as decision and consequence.”
The starting point is that there is no ending—purposely, like Penelope’s self-imposed task. From design as a noun to designing, ever becoming, always the search. There will be concern and enquiry, there will be some responses, but there won’t be definite answers.
As much as there is conflict in my mind about the identity and purpose of my work, there will be wandering in this publication on the impact and purpose of designing in general. As much as I am professionally caught between a human understanding of designing which impacts people’s lives and crafts relationships and a business approach to design as a means to drive more sales, I will try to unravel the mess and weave a meaning for this multifaceted, elusive and fascinating field of knowledge and practice.
I invite any companions to reflect with me, as well as discussing and enriching my thinking. Welcome.
Thanks for reading Becoming design. Subscribe to accompany me in this quest.
Potter, N. (1969). What is a designer: things, places, messages. Hyphen Press.