Reading the AIGA/Adobe definition of 2015′s graphic designer left me thinking about what was different in 2006 from today, roughly 7 years forward and whether I think the trends still apply. Mostly, they still do and I believe that it is because of the generalized nature of the descriptives that are not tied to the technology that designers work with on a daily basis. I felt that some of the “definitions” were geared toward the more traditional designer, such as the first competency listed. Part of me feels disappointed to the way that Adobe and AIGA defined the designer of 2015. It seems a little too safe to me, with competencies such as “understanding of and ability to utilize tools and technology.” The concept is certainly important (I agree with every skill/quality that is defined), but that has been the call of a designer for a long time. Before long, i’ll be living as one of these defined designers, using my “expanded scope,” “co-creation models” etc… and it makes me consider the current nature of how I design and view design.
I think of what I want to do with my graphic design knowledge and it does fall in line with Hugh Dubberly’s object to systems argument in “Design In the Age of Biology: Shifting from a mechanical-object ethos to an organic-systems ethos.” What I see of my design is a hybrid of this, though and perhaps it is because of the transitive state that graphic design is in. The organic nature of design services of the future bodes the possibility for more service-oriented design. Recently, my grandfather had a heart attack and spent two weeks in the hospital. While there, he was completely out of his zone of comfort (partly due to his macular degeneration) and was unable to use the phone, remote, find his water, or even find his glasses. I thought about how poorly designed many of these objects were in this situation, and how elderly individuals have been largely forgotten in design usability/accessibility. I see the systems thinking mode of design starting now, as we look around us and realize how we can redesign objects, experiences, and even ourselves into something better.
An example of a design studio that focuses solely on fourth order design problems is New Kind (http://newkind.com). I highly recommend reading their “book” that is downloadable as a pdf (http://newkind.com/our-perspective/). I think that New Kind’s studio philosophy of communicating effectively with the world around them to solve all types of non-traditional designer problems is proof that we are evolving into a new designer, one that we couldn’t predict even 7 years ago. As the world continues to expand with people and with advancements in knowledge and technology, designers are still designers as I sit on the bed next to Paula Scher’s Map Book and a few recent copies of Print Magazine, but we are expanding our business in a good way. I love the hybrid nature of the traditional and the conceptual designer experience. Even in my job, I create greyscreens, mockups, and eventually final products of web sites that are more user friendly and accessible, while also beautiful. It is taking communications and making it timelessly and wonderfully effective. I hope to be more than AIGA/Adobe’s Designer of 2015, preserving the disciplines more traditional expectations of me as a professional all while working on the edges of the profession to figure out how to truly do as much as I can say about designing a better world.