It is so important to be light on your feet, inquisitive and interested in being wrong. You have that wonderful fascination with the what if questions, but you also need absolute focus and a keen insight into the context and what is important - that is really terribly important. Its about contradictions you have to navigate.
A few common designer profiles to watch out for:
“The Procrastinator” – we all know him. Most of us turn into this guy on a daily basis, but we all know that one procrastinator whose always in the computer lab. You try to avoid him but he’s “gotta show you this new youtube clip.” He’s always has a crumbled-up bag of McDonalds he ate that afternoon. He’s usually got one headphone in, while the other one out, blasting European Techno, so just incase you call his name, he’ll hear you.
“The Rich-kid” – He’s here cause his parents are in some creative field and his previous GPA couldn’t get him anywhere else. He’s usually older because he spent a few years at another university partying away his parent’s money. He takes design somewhat serious but knows his parents are connected, so he just coasts.
“The Creepy Crawler” – No one ever confronts this kid, but we all know he didn’t do that sketch. He’s friendly, but way too friendly. Usually asks the question, “Hey can I take a look at your sketchbook.” You spend an entire week in the computer lab working on an assignment and you don’t see him once. But once class time arrives, he has a magnificent rendering done with 3D glasses for everyone to view it. How did he do it? No one ever knows, but we continue to let him slide.
“The Design Director” – He’s thinks he’s the best, the greatest, and he’s always the first to criticize your work. He’s usually a “hit or miss” type of designer. One week his work is great, but then the next week, it’s eh. While squinting his eyes, he always asks the most irrelevant question, “Well if this phone is suppose to run off solar energy, what happens in areas of the world where the moon only shows.” Most of the class just lies in wait for the next great quote from this young “Design Director.”
“Mr. Connection” – This guy knows everyone. Or at least claims to. He’s usually got that summer internship locked down because his next-door neighbor’s dog belongs to the same canine massage parlor that the head designer of Sharper Image belongs to. He’s a good guy to know, but not the guy you want to work with.
“The Trapeze Artist” – This guy is always hanging on a thin wire. He’s usually got a second job and always uses that excuse for why he doesn’t have his work. If the assignment is to do 20 sketches on 11×17, he puts up 5 pages on 8.5×11. It’s usually of the wrong assignment. He presents his work as if no one notices the 15 missing pages.
“The Connor” – Dedication, Passion, and good-heartedness is all this guy is about. Most people in the computer lab tend to work near him because of he’s gained a reputation as an “Over Achiever.” His weekly class work usually out-does everyone else, but his modest approach is what makes this type of person someone to work with.
“The Late Night Duo” – These few designers are always in the computer lab working through the night. It is unknown whether or not they’re always there because they’re not utilizing there time correctly but when once 4am rolls around, these guys still have enough energy to keep you going.
“The Twin” – There’s always that one guy who’s always working on a project closely related to yours. By working with this guy, your competitive nature has you working even harder just to out-do him. Having this kind of designer near you keeps your work ethic in tact.
“That Old Dude” – Commonly mistaken as a teacher; this one guy, in his mid 30’s, doesn’t have time to waste. He may have a family or a just a cat to get back home to, but this guy utilizes his time wisely because he cannot afford all-nighters. Following his work ethic will help you work more efficiently.
“The H-Train” – Take a ride with this kind of designer. He has his own approach to design even the instructors don’t understand. His understanding of graphic layout design has many students run their projects through him before asking the teacher. He’s called the “H-Train” because it’s short for the “Helpful Trainer”.
Dieter Rams - 10 principles of design - (curtesy of vitsoe.com)
You wouldn’t go to far wrong following these 10 principles of design, by Dieter Rams. Mostly known for his work with Braun making them a household name in the 50’s
1) Good design is Innovative
The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.
2) Good design makes a product useful
A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasises the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.
3) Good design is aesthetic
The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products we use every day affect our person and our well-being. But only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
4) Good design makes a product understandable
It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory.
5) Good design is unobtrusive
Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
6) Good design is honest
It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
7) Good design is long lasting
It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.
8) Good design is thorough down to the last detail
Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
9) Good design is environmentally-friendly
Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
10) Good design is as little design as possible
Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials.
Back to purity, back to simplicity.