The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Industrial Designers: Thursday
This post continues our week long series, whereby I will publish one of the seven habits on each day of the week.
Sorry it’s a little later today as I had a few important things to sort out first. Here is the link to Wednesday’s post if you missed it.
Aerial screw by Leonardo Da Vinci
4) A Renaissance outlook in life and unique specialist interests
The most effective industrial designers draw inspiration from many sources outside of design. These designers are in many ways are very much like Leonardo Da Vinci, one of our first “Renaissance man”. They have an open mind, diverse interests, and always willing to try new things and methods. And yet they have very specialist skills such as 3D CAD design or cycling or even looking after kids.
Not only are these people great to have a conversation with, they have the uncanny ability to think outside of the box and come up with great unique solutions. It is their varied interests in things that allow them to do so and gives them an edge over other designers. Basically if you only look at other designer’s work for solutions to your design problems you might risk creating variations of the same work. These days, as design industry gets more competitive, we just cannot afford to come up with similar design solutions.
I do realize that this is some what similar to what Tim Brown, from IDEO, calls as “T” Shaped type people:
We look for people who are so inquisitive about the world that they’re willing to try to do what you do. We call them “T-shaped people.” They have a principal skill that describes the vertical leg of the T — they’re mechanical engineers or industrial designers. But they are so empathetic that they can branch out into other skills, such as anthropology, and do them as well.
Source: Fast Company
But my focus here is slightly different and more towards designers. It is not really about doing other jobs, per say, but the ability to explore other interests and draw inspiration from it. In addition to variety, a designer that has a narrow specialist interests in, for example, sailing can also bring a lot to the discussion table. Thus from my point of view specialist interests does not necessary need to be related to design, in fact it should not be related to design, but can be useful in coming up with design solutions.
Unfortunately, this is more easily said than done, and surprisingly many designers are not as varied as they think. Many designers I have interviewed, strangely continue to design in their spare time. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but they risk being one sided and having design thoughts stuck in a never ending spiral. In reality, it does require genuine interest in learning new things, as well as overcoming the fear of stepping off the beaten path and trying different things. An easy test on the interview table is making a calculated off-handed suggestion of an interviewee’s work that is opposite to his design solution to see if that designer takes it constructively.
As a designer, there is already so much to do and so little time in a day, so how can we try on new things? The easiest way is to offer to take on occasional non-design related tasks, another good way it to read voraciously, read anything and everything.
I do hope you enjoyed Thursday’s entry; do head on over to the next habit which is up here.