After 6355.4 miles, 21 states, and countless enlightening interviews, the Design Roadtrip has finally come to a close! It was an inspiring (and sometimes tiring!) 6-week journey in which three aspiring young designers traveled the country to interview the movers and shakers of the design world. From the sound designer for Star Wars to the creator behind Swiss Miss, to the animator who worked on Frozen, the road-trippers heard from passionate individuals in every cranny of design to see what’s possible for their own futures. Now that the trip is in their rear-view mirror, the team has had a chance to reflect on their take-aways, and we’ve asked them to share them with you! Here’s what Ben, Martha, and Sofaya learned this summer on the road:
Being on the road this summer was such an incredible experience. It truly opened my mind to more creative careers than I could have ever imagined. Design is everywhere, embedded in every business and continually pushing the limitations of creativity. From guitars to museums, clothing to water filters, computers to camp stoves, people and businesses are changing the world as we know it. I don’t know where I will find myself working in this realm of creativity, but I am more excited than ever to jump in.
When I look back at the enormous list of people that we talked to this summer, it is astounding to me the range of inspiring, engaging, creative, aware people that I feel proud to call designers. Each may not fit the conventional definition of the word, and I’m sure some would be hesitant to label themselves as such, but one of the most profound lessons that will stay with me from this experience is that whether someone is a musician or an educator, a chef or an animator, they each use the same type of inspiring creative process. The emphasis in our conversations across the country was not necessarily on what was being created, but on how it was being done. What inspired me most about each of our amazing leaders (and this is a lifelong pursuit that I hope to continue to discover and emulate) was each of their abilities to, in their own way, connect disparate elements to create something new. Whether it was in bringing together their meandering life path to find a fulfilling, intersectional career, or combining different ways of looking at things in their work, I was inspired and amazed at the ways that people have found ways to be creative and to help build a better world. And they’re happy doing it! I think that what is special about the idea of design is that it is holistic: it is both for yourself and also for others; you can be happy and fulfilled and also work to change the world! Isn’t that what we all want?
I came into this road trip pretty well versed in design because that’s what I lived and breathed for the past four years. What you don’t necessarily learn in school, however, is the potential for impact in various arenas when you pair your design sensibility with your personal desire to change the world. This summer we’ve spoken to designers who’ve applied their designed objects in ways that enact social change, environmental change, change in the way that people do business, change in the relationship between the consumer and the product, and change in the daily lives of everyday people who may have been content in their lives until they suddenly got better. This to me is the true purpose of design: making someone’s life better by problem-solving.