Last Friday, Steve Johnson gave a talk at the Jacobs Center about the traits that define great designers and how good design has the capacity to change the world.
For Johnson, one of the greatest design minds was Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, because he inspired an entire generation of thinkers, creators, and innovators. Johnson believes in dreaming big and looking to the future, to do more and build more.
Johnson calls design ‘user experience’. Designers should create with the user in mind. Excellent design should be integrated and tailored to daily life, including cars, fashion and interior space. He especially emphasized that one size does not fit all, and that a designer should continually seek out competing perspectives to improve the end product. Users do not struggle to use a product because of lack of intelligence, but rather a design flaw.
That interest in other perspectives should extend to the designer’s team, by filling out the team with people who represent the audience. Steve emphasized having both bridge architects to design success across divisions and amplifiers to bring out other people’s talents to solve for success.
Similarly the team should value and support creativity and quirkiness. The best and strongest ideas are those that do not conform. Often, good designers have to adapt to new situations and become trendsetters. Hierarchies and conservatism are not conducive to ensuring that the best ideas come to the top. Good design does not assume that everyone is in the same situation or has the insight of the designer.
He made the difference between urgent and important. Urgent is something that is important to someone else and important is something that is important to you. A good designer is a good leader and ensures that his team understands and is equally passionate about every project. Good designers are emotionally available, love their work, and are excited to learn, teach and share with those around them.
Johnson concluded by highlighting the importance of the designer and product reflecting the values of the company. Success comes when personal beliefs line up with the beliefs of the workplace.
— Nicolas Chang
Check out photos from the event below: