So – What Is A Designer?

Well its been an eventful launch. I’ve had a mixture of feedback – both good and constructive.

But one thing this has really made me realise that as soon as you say “Designer” people immediately are hit by a multitude of stereotypes.
Some are right – some are close – and some are nowhere near to the truth…Or even in the same dimension.

So what is a designer?

Well first of all let’s have a look at a few of the stereotypes that I often encounter.

  1. The fashion designer – Most often a knee jerk reaction from women (sorry) almost immediately associate the term “designer” with current fashion, catwalk’s in Milan, Paris and Gok Wan.
  2. Interior designer – Like the people who appear on “changing rooms” (or whatever is on TV these days) that will magically appear in a room and suddenly make it “fabulous”.
  3. Graphic designer – Responsible for making packaging, products, logo’s and the cover of “Top Gear” magazine.

So what answer is the right one?

Well none really; My title is an Innovative Product Designer – no one ever thinks about product designer, but thinks about the people who package them and do the advertisements, what is with that? And this is who I am;

In my experience it is impossible to categorize what many other designers and myself do into one stern role. Typically a designer could be the main component in the entire machine that makes a product come to market – From initial idea – to research – to concept – to prototype – to finished model – to advertising/marketing.

On the other hand it could befall to the designer to almost “micro-manage” the project in a sense. There could be teams of engineers, artists, programmers, marketers (the ability of people to bureaucracize is amazing) that together must follow a set timeline, task or vision.

But aren’t you all sitting at desks with rulers and a drawing board? – I hear you ask.

Not really is my answer. So far I have seldom sat behind a drawing board, but instead can proceed to scribble and furiously take notes while I talk to people for insights.

So you’re an arty type? – You probably aren’t asking.

Absolutely not – at the moment I have around 3-4 sketchbooks all for different projects/tasks. They are absolutely not artistic, neatly presented, or pretty to look at – they are simply a storage for idea’s – Most of my best idea’s come at the most unimaginably inconvenient times and will be gone faster than pizza at a Superbowl party. Perhaps the best illustration of this was Sir Isaac Newton – Who used to sit holding a metal ball until he fell asleep, upon the metal ball dropping he would awaken and scribble whatever came to mind (He also used to say that sleeping was a waste of time!)

It also points my mind back to when Dr. Emmet Brown invented the Flux Capacitor in Back To The Future by knocking himself out against a toilet bowl – but I’ve yet to try this method.

A lot of being a designer is also being a people person. I know that is probably hard to believe – but in order to understand the final product you must first understand your user. Mainly this consists of going out and talking to people – all the best designers I know are the most social people I have met.

So what is my point?

My point is exactly thus; when you say “Designer” to someone – they will (probably) think immediately of high-end clothes, guys with glasses and huge tall glass buildings that are covered in white….and have an “Apple” logo on the front. Design is such a wide open field that it is impossible to truly justify where it starts and ends. And as for the people? There is no archetype – no perfect designer, no true stereotype – Its Jeff from down the road, Its me, its you. There is no absolute answer – and if designers were all the same then I truly believe it would stop being exciting.


One response to “So – What Is A Designer?

  1. Pingback: Life By Design – Making your monotonous desk job…Slightly Less monotonous « LifeByDesignUK·

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