My turbulent journey into design

Where are we going?

“Has interactive design lost its battle against interface ignorance?” The question that should haunt every starting and experienced designer. The easy answer would be yes. That’s the comforting answer for any designer at least. It allows us to stick with our old ways. It enables us to stay as we are. But if life has taught us anything, it’s that the only thing that never changes, is that things change.

Klein portret Rowen Forman

Stuk door Rowen Forman. Artikelen van Rowen Forman.

Coming to grips

For myself, coming to grips with the outlook of what we call design was frightening. When I started out on my journey it all seemed so simple. You put in the time to learn a craft, and then you provide others with a service. And so I did, I learned and perfected my craft and soon was putting it to use for clients. In doing so I learned one thing above all. People are always happy with something they make themselves.

Create to create

Take Modulyss, a project from Zuiderlicht in Maastricht. It lets a people who are interested in carpeted floors make their own design. Users select and combine patterns to create a unique floor. This approach to design has many benefits for both the user and the designer. The user gets a one-of-a-kind floor which they designed themselves. And the designer is freed of the process of identifying the needs of the user. His work is essentially done. Because you can certainly let someone make a design, but if you want it to be any good, you’ll have to create some constraints.

Shepard the weak through the valley of design

So how can you exploit this without depreciating the result? Well by chance I started learning programming. It showed me the beauty of combining function and aesthetics. And it gave me a new perspective. When you give people the freedom to customize what you provide them with, you get happier customers. Everyone is a designer. But few people have the inherent skill to create something of beauty. Professionals can take on the role of a shepherd, a facilitator if you will. This new style of design might just be my own faulty interpretation. But if it’s not then at least I will be ready. Surely you can survive within the old constraints, but thriving, that is left to those who can adapt.

The awakening

So here we are, fresh students of a freshly adapted study program. Being made aware of the environment around us. Not everyone is equally aware of these surroundings though. Many still cling to an old idea of what design could be. And even as I write this I am unsure of what design really is, was and will be. This realization both scares and excites me. Without a vision of design, you can receive input without dissonance and form new ideas freely. But what do I want for myself? That’s a question I don’t yet have an answer to. Hopefully the education I am following will steer me in the right direction. Though many people have told me that you need to find your own meaning for design. And that this meaning can only be found post-school.

Literature list

● Service design voor modulyss®. (2016). Geraadpleegd van