Apple's Jonathan Ive

Jonathan Ive, esteemed Senior VP of Design at Apple, says that what makes a designer a true designer is the way we look at our world. We see things differently. He states that desingers are cursed as we’re always wanting to know why something is created as it is and not another way.

I would certainly agree.  I find myself constantly analyzing marketing collateral, identities and design – whether they’re television commercials, logos, signage I see every day or, most commonly, my own work.

Watch Jonathan’s interview on the documentary “Objectified” to hear him describe design as he sees it.

In my quest for  higher design, I follow several other designers on Twitter. Their sites are essentially web blogs/pages on which other designers logos are featured, discussed and critiqued.

What I really find most interesting when reading other designer’s comments on the site is how critical they can be without providing constructive feedback to the designer.  Many simply post comments like, “I don’t like it” or “It doesn’t do anything for me.” What they fail to acknowledge in many cases is that the design was rendered for a client who guided the design process to where it is for a reason.  We, as outsiders, looking in without knowledge of the developmental process that took place, are all too quick to be critical of others work without getting even marginal insight into the constructive thought process.  Remember, modesty and constructive feedback are traits well- liked in any profession.

One critical thing I constantly try to keep front-of-mind when designing a piece is something I’ve observed in many fields – but more so in creative professionals from clothing designers to graphic artists.  As in any profession, it seems the more “accredited” one becomes in their field and the more advanced their design “consciousness” becomes, the more apt they become to disconnecting with their intended audience.  Many would say that the more “proficient” one is at their craft the more innovative they become.  This is true, but only to a certain degree.  Designers often developed such advanced design aesthetics and methodology to a point where they become lost in translation.  It can sometimes become a show simply for the sake of a show.
At what point do we as designers need to think about self-editing to maintain concise, purpose-driven mechanics in design theory and practice?  What really constitutes good design?  Keep in mind that design is subjective – driven by emotionally subconscious associations mixed with personal aesthetic taste.  Frankly, I most enjoy the lesser known sites and their content, logos, etc. simply because they feature lesser known artists with some fresh, new ideas.  Many other graphic design sites have a tendencies to fall into a pattern or trend, which is a bad model to follow in the creative world.

So, if Jonathan Ive is right, we should be looking at ourselves as much as others in how we develop and communicate our designs. After all, we are all seeking out new business with those who are outside our field. As difficult as it may be, given our self-proclaimed superior vision, aesthetic values and immaculate taste, we may need to think more of our clients motivations and less of our own.

SCM Designs

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