Check out Marc Newson: Urban Spaceman, an interesting documentary on the eclectic designer who’s drawn up plans for everything from kitchen accesories to spacecraft.
^ The obligatory “designer touching their face” shot. It is a well established fact that “If you’re a designer, you ain’t shit if you don’t touch your face in photographs”. See Designers Touching Their Faces for more.
There’s a lot to be said about Newson, and that’s been covered by a lot of people. But the thing that really struck me in relation to Open Design is the reason why he designs - starting at 7:15 in Part 2/5.
Anger. Frustration with the world as it is.
I thought, welllll, its not just rockstar designer Marc Newson who feels this, its everyone.
We get angry when things are confusing or don’t work quite right. We probably want to give the people responsible a good kicking, then make them fix it - so that no-one else should suffer the same rubbish design.
Amongst the anger is a brief moment of selflessness in there - something that improves the situation for everyone. It’s a beautiful human psychological trait. For a brief glimmering moment, there is potential for users to give insightful design feedback and suggestions.
I find this really interesting. Companies pay tremendous amounts of money for design consultancies to figure out what is frustrating about their products. How do design companies actually do that? Interviewing and observing users of the product.
How about the users tell the companies themselves? In that brief moment of frustration, we have no problem giving constructive criticism for free. Can we co-create, instead of simply consuming? Can companies fling open their doors and actually communicate with users? Can the dark side of design be harnessed?
There are some strategies emerging to do so:
More and more systems are emerging for collecting user feedback and insights, not just for websites and apps, but for using physical products too.
So although Newson may be a superstar designer, he’s not alone in being largely motivated by anger. I suppose what differs him from the masses is he has the necessary tools to do something when he feels exasperated. But now, the digital age is opening up the design process, giving everyone the power to design and improve products. If something frustrates us, we don’t have to wallow in our anger, powerless. We can harness that frustration and take meaningful steps to improve the situation.
And in doing so, we might just discover the other side of design - the joy of creation.