For many designers, design isn’t limited to a 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. workday. It’s not something that is “turned on” when designers walk into the office or “turned off” when they go home. Design is a part of how we think. It’s a part of who we are.
I’m frequently asked why I wanted to be a designer, and why I love design so much. I love design because it strengthens and flexes the human quality of empathy. Design isn’t just about making things beautiful; it’s about putting yourself in another person’s shoes to understand how you can make their lives better.
But my list doesn’t end there. Here are five other reasons why I love design:
- Design is about listening and observing. In large group settings or in a crowded bar, I’m the fly on the wall—silent and invisible, but always aware. I’m not one to talk just to fill the silence. I like to absorb all the information I can before addressing a problem or even thinking about formulating a response.
I think most designers of any field or industry can confidently say that they are sponges of the world. I spent most of my childhood reading any and all books, demystifying brain games, and completing seemingly impossible puzzles. For me, I’ve always been an absorber of knowledge and minutiae. Deconstructing problems is where I’m most comfortable. I relish the idea of approaching issues with no apparent solution, parsing them, and arriving at simple, yet elegant resolutions. This particular zeal for problem-solving stems from an inherent desire to clarify what I can in a world replete with complex obstacles, big and small.
- Design is about passion. Despite the abundance of poor communication and bad design, there is hope. Behind the curtain of every successful brand or beautifully designed experience is a team of people who share one thing in common: passion. Whether it’s a passion for helping alleviate the pain points of peoples’ lives or for building communities of individuals, passion pushes us to do better, be better and—most importantly— improve the human condition for everyone around us.
- Design plays on our fascination with people’s motivations and desires. Throughout my life, I’ve harbored this childlike fascination with the brain and peoples’ various motivations and core desires. This wonderment led and inspired me to pursue design, specifically strategic user-centric design. I love design because it puts a huge emphasis on people. It tends to the needs and wants of real humans who have flaws and are predictably irrational creatures of habit.
- Design is about people. As a graphic designer, I pledge allegiance to the user and the design process. I’m fervently passionate when it comes to empathizing with people and helping them to the best of my abilities. Like many great designers, I love forming deep, interpersonal relationships with people and learning about their pains, their triumphs, and their shortcomings. Through user experience research and design, I’m able to do just that and more. I’ve found that by nurturing my relationships with people, I learn more about myself and about the world around me. Experiencing a deep-seated connection with each individual I come into contact with is important to me and makes me a better designer and a better person. I continue to fight the good fight because people and their capacity to change and transform constantly inspire me.
- Design has no limits. An aspect of design I’ve learned to love and accept over the years is the sentiment that the design process never truly ends. A design solution can always be bigger, simpler, deeper, or just plain better. Simply put, a designer’s job is never quite done. That’s the beauty of design. On a similar note, I believe one of the greatest tenets of design is the idea that nothing is sacrosanct. Every deliverable, methodology, or philosophy can be improved upon, and that’s what I strive to do every day. I seek out problems in my professional environment, as well as in my personal life, and apply everything I’ve learned as a designer to ameliorate the lives of those around me.
Sammie Song is a designer who employs empathy and a user focus to create thoughtful solutions to clients’ dense, labyrinthine problems.