Design Road-Trippers: Initial Thoughts On Design

May 22, 2014


Our design road-trippers (Ben, Sofaya, and Martha) have been very busy booking interviews and planning for their trip! This summer, they will be traveling the country and interviewing leading design innovators. We can’t disclose (yet) who the team will be chatting with, but we can say that they’re going to be speaking with some pretty rad folks. In line with the theme of their road trip, we thought it would be fun to share each of their initial thoughts on design. So, without further ado…


Ben’s thoughts on design:


We experience design in various forms throughout every facet of life. When I think of design, my mind jumps to the obvious things, like my surfboards, guitar, phone, and car; but what truly intrigues me about design is the passion, creativity and dedication of the people behind it. Designers have been a driving force behind human culture since the beginning of time (thanks for the wheel, guys). The excitement of creating something new, or unique, or outrageously awesome, does not stop with the designer—it spreads to those who experience that creation. Design is an experience, and often a collective one. Designers are continuously pushing the envelope of what we can experience, and how we experience it. A painting doesn’t settle to be just color and canvas, it evokes emotion.


I have always been intrigued by design’s ability to evoke emotion, motivate action, and connect people around the world.  My mission is to find the area of design that allows me to think creatively and enhance the world around me to positively impact the lives of others. So many designers around the globe are doing just that, and I hope to talk with some of them this summer.


Sofaya’s thoughts on design:


Things people need are invented. Things people want are designed. A lot of times when things are made, the maker forgets that the end users are people, and it’s the job of the designer to make things desirable to people. Whether it’s by making it function better, making it more efficient, making it feel nicer, or making it intuitive or easily understood, above all, for God’s sake, make it beautiful. Raymond Leowy once said, “Between two products equal in price, function and quality, the one with the most attractive exterior will win.” Once you start to make decisions in which the specs can’t be quantified, the consequences are more subjective and nuanced than “it works/it doesn’t work.” The only way to test it is to take it to a real person and ask them, “Do you like this? Why?” Then you know you’re entering the realm of design.


Martha’s thoughts on design:


Design can mean so many things: art, graphic design, urban planning, robotics, magazines, games, apps. It’s so wide-reaching that we sometimes get bogged down in the specifics of the WHAT – the physical manifestation of the programs or the structures or the technology that make up what is being designed. But what fascinates me, and what keeps me coming back to the idea of design in my life, is the WHY – the reason people continue to create and innovate. It seems to me that this WHY—the reason people design—is both simple and powerful: it is the chance to make “things” humans. It’s fascinating to examine how what we make defines who we are as a culture, a nation, and a species: the story of our things tells us about who we are, what we value, and how we choose to create our lives. Whether it’s in the sound production of a radio show or the inner workings of an airplane, design’s goal is to allow us to do more and share more – at its core, it is functional empathy.


Here are some images the road-trippers associate with design:



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *