My Views On How Designers Can Work At The Intersection Of Systems, Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Impact
Just as everything else in this world, the role of the designer is changing almost everyday. Our roles have moved from making things look “aesthetic” to more research heavy roles in the last few years. And the trajectory we seem to be headed towards is roles that are more all encompassing. As I continue to pursue my master’s degree I am increasingly realising that the visual packaging of anything a designer makes, while important, is answering the “function WITH form” line of thought. To make an informed “design decision” on this comes with A LOT of research. The intersection of research and form with function has made room for a certain amount of innovation and impact. I think I can say (hopefully without sounding too presumptuous) that the learning curve for this overall is probably one of the steepest I’ve come across. Eventually, we learn and innovate so rapidly that nothing in the particular overlap seems inventive anymore. Where do we as designers go from here?
The more I think of it the more I’m inclined to say that there are no clear beginnings to design “phases” as it were. At some point during our “research and innovation” phase designers had all diverged to go on and explore different paths. I think the analogy that works best is probably the ever ominous “Timeline & Multiverse” canons that we’re becoming increasingly familiar with (from Back to the Future to DC’s Flashpoint and Marvel’s interpretation in Endgame). Over time some designers seized their chance to become entrepreneurs and have built systems as we’ve come to know and love them today. A few have been in the background making attempts to start ventures on their own based on products they believe the market wants or needs, and others still, watching their original ideas evolve as more lines and spaces get blurred with each new product or technology introduction. What I’m getting at is with time designing ideas has become increasingly and excitingly complex. With each added complexity designers must evolve, up-skill, rethink and most importantly collaborate.
The intersection of systems, entrepreneurship, innovation and impact is one that exists today. It is also one that most design professionals have already found themselves navigating in some ways or the other. At the start this hazy designscape is probably best traversed with open eyes and ears and with the mindset that all questions are welcome. As one begins to feel comfortable with the haze they’ll eventually find themselves having some answers. When even more time passes I think designers will have many many names, “first of their kind” NOT being one, but perhaps “One of a Kind”. Other titles might be, “See-ers of Big Pictures”, “Facilitators of Thoughts and Opinions”, “Leaders of Collaborations”, “Askers of Profound Questions”, “Knowers of Most Concepts”, “Acceptors of the Frustrating”, “Over-thinking Researchers”.. And many many more.
I suppose the short version of my view on the subject would be, designers should aim to work as leaders and facilitators of collaborative experiences. To me it seems like a path that is as challenging as it is rewarding.