Design Philosophy

I had an argument with my mum this morning. Her Made in Korea’s car broke down again for countless of time. I did a bit of lecture all the way driving to the workshop, told her not to buying anything from Korea anymore.

She told me, maybe, but she’ll still buy Samsung’s phone. Its cute, as she said. While i appreciate her point of view because its very subjective point of view, i respectfully did not think so.

Design for me, its not how beauty it is. But the beauty of design, is how to make it works. Am i going to mention anything about Apple again in here? No, thankfully. But i’d like to recalled a bit more experience that i learned when it comes to designing.

When i was in primary school, there’s used to be a time we’d draw our own comics and trade it among friends. Its nice piece of artwork, draw by no more than just a pencil and imagination. It captured my heart only a 11 years old could understand. The scene however, didn’t last long of course. I don’t recalled if i ever do any drawing after that more than just for art course in high school.

As soon as i learned how’s the computer works, i started to looking at the gray, dull cpu box that sit next to my monitor. It has a hazel power on / reset buttons, and it looks like a blast from the past. I hate it. So next day, i bought 2 cans of black spray paint, and i painted it. It looks sexy, but i knew it could be better. Soon, i was looking at the inside components and try to see something that i could change to make it beautiful inside out.

That was the last of it. It blow away and gave me my first electrical shocked. I couldn’t recalled how many times i got shocked, but as i grow up and learned from my mistake, it gets less.

There’s a moment i managed to blackout the whole office where i work at. I’ve been tinkering to keep my pc from making so much noise, and later i only left with the power supply. Its the only component in my computer that been making so much noise. So i bring it to my office, i open it up, and try to modified the fan. I did it. Its running real silence now while still maintain good airflow to cool things down. But as far as my happiness goes, i forgot to unplug the power cable, and while i was putting it all back in, there’s burst that just few centimeters from my face, and then the whole office blackout.

I went home early that day.

But the real lessons that really valuable to me, its was the 6 months of internship as graphic designer. I learned, from top guys. From experts. From commanders. From old timers. They’re hardcore.

I couldn’t tell how beautiful those 6 months i spent in that little studio. I couldn’t thankful them enough for all the things they taught me. Not too mention for RM500 allowance every months.

Being an artist, a real artist, means being a lot more sensitive to your surrounding.

There’s one time when i was designing a backdrop from event launching, and they told me its suck and too crowded. When it comes to designing an artwork for public to see, first of all, you must understand the message that you try to give. What its all about.

And second, the message must be intuitively pick up no less than 3 seconds. Although it might contains a word that explain the message, but imagine you can accomplish it without any text at all. Just the whole picture.

Imagine a billboard on highway, nobody would stop to read an essay on those billboard. Or scan a QR code. So simplicity is the key, in order to achieve something that real something, first you need to stripped down all the unnecessary elements. What shouldn’t be there, shouldn’t be there at all. You don’t want to make it beautiful, you want to make it work.

Imagine you’re dating with the most beautiful woman who completely imbecile, but still confidence in her speech like she’s some short of Google in human form.

It means, getting rid of complexity so the function can come out.

There’s few times when i get tired mocking up a logo. While i can draw back the shape perfectly, i couldn’t figure out yet how to match with the original colors. So, i picked the closest one i believe anybody won’t spot, and my boss spotted it. That was the moment i learned how to train my eyes into an eagle’s eyes.

The color must be accurate in all level. Because logo represent identity. Its either in color, or, you can black and white it for some purpose. What if i take your bike, and i paint it fade black. Would you still consider its your bike? It might be, but the way you look at it, i don’t think its still the same.

I was lucky because my boss spotted it. Because if he can, then anybody can. Even 99% can’t, 1% who can count the most.

I don’t know about you, but these lessons, values, i carry over through my whole life. I’m longer a graphic designer, but artistic value still inside me. I can sleep better at night, doing the right thing. Even my clients wouldn’t care or aware about it.

Because i know my creation, my masterpiece, my artwork functions beautifully. Its all because i care. If i don’t care, i might be care for something else. Like money.

I may not the best designer, or perhaps even the right person to talk about this. But for me, personally and professionally, what matter the most if how you use it. Not how you design it. It doesn’t matter if it didn’t win any award, but as long as people who bought it be able to use it intuitively, that’s one hell of score. Because design makes function beautiful. Not other way around.

Posted February 5, 2013

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