選單

Design: Set Free from the Seemingly Boundless Possibilities

台灣設計師週總召集人
Executive Director of Taiwan Designers' Week
廖軍豪Timothy Liao
YEARBOOK 2017

         
習以為常的紙盒                                                                   手工照明燈具                                                               手工照明燈具

 

“Design” can either be a verb or a noun. This sort of undertaking does not belong solely to the design practitioners. Design is an innate ability, which had already existed before this particular nomenclature system or specialized domain was established, and had come about gradually through an array of creative works and operations. Looking back at the history of human civilization, “design” can also be seen as a testimony of how human race has tackled the challenges at hand. Take product design for example: the most embryonic form of such design can be traced back to the ancient times. Those handmade stone spears and axes were the most cutting-edge and refined designs during that epoch. To make such primitive tools with our own hands today will undoubtedly be a daunting task. Besides, with a myriad of ancient tools unearthed around the world, one will be amazed to see how far and widely our ancestors had traveled across the continents. When analyzing all the objects from around the globe, we can find commonalities in their designs, equivalent to today’s design protocols. With no sophisticated communication channel then, one may wonder how could this type of design process be passed down by different peoples while being repetitively adopted for generations. We can conclude that ever since design came into being and started flourishing, our needs and problems have been realizing its potential. In other words, when there is a need, be it a trivial or a major problem (at present or in store for the future), “design” will always be there.

 

As we progress in life, so does the complexity of the challenges we face. We have come to expect more when it comes to a convenient and comfortable life. “Design” no longer just serves as a profession preaching visual aesthetics and committed to creative practices. “Design” all in all has become more of a certain mindset encompassing a specific system and procedure. Its specialization has got unfathomably complicated. To put it another way, “design” nowadays has reached a new zenith and accrued revenues. For most people, “design” has transitioned from being a capacity everyone has to some relationship everyone aspires for. On the whole, to satisfy our mundane needs, we have become more dependent on the designers and product developers while waiting for them to produce new products. We now only care about the “right” or “value” pertinent to the designs we opt for. Most of us have seen our preexisting “thinking ability” and “designing capacity” wane or become dormant. To top it all, since our design process has got more specialized and segmented, and since the specialization has branched out to more diversified and detailed domains, design practitioners now merely focus on the things within the scope of their duties. Their visions or mindsets have usually been confined. To make ingenious designs possible, a professional designer must break free from all kinds of “limitation,” paying more attention to the human race per se, societal evolution and physical beings. In the world today and the future, the social landscape and lifestyle will be shaped decisively by our needs and habits. When interdisciplinary cooperation gets more frequent and intertwined, designers shall think and proactively implement their projects with a more systematic perspective. This will explain why many designs are great success: their designers do not simply focus on “design” per se; rather, they have better grasp of their own starting points, processes, interpersonal relationship and even marketing strategies. In addition, this can also echo why I start elaborating on the infinite and boundless design mindset in the first paragraph. From time to time, I have been telling myself that when a designer starts to probe deeper into a more specialized realm, he should never be chained by the seemingly immense wealth of possibilities.

 

Ever since I entered the job market, I have been pondering: How can I keep my inspiration flowing and how can I stay motivated while addressing all sorts of design challenges? Later it occurred to me how important observation is. Our inspiration and concepts do not grow from nowhere. Accumulated in our brain are what we see, hear and experience, which serve as a design mindset sparking inspiration. In recent years, I have started to take a more observant role in my life, exploring different kinds of so-called “layperson designs,” namely the designs created by non-designers who try to see to people’s needs. After years of exploration, I have found quite a number of occasions on which I happened to see or use the objects “designed” by those layperson designers. But how did it all start? I can recall that one day a few years ago, when I got home from a rough day at the design company, I finally had my own time to enjoy my dinner. After I was done with my meal, I started to clean up the mess, putting the leftovers and bones alike into the self-made paper boxes. It was at that moment that I began to ask who invented those paper boxes (made from flyers). We have grown so accustomed to using them (see the image). So I wanted to know who came up with such original way to fold the flyer into a useful paper box and made it so commonplace in every household in Taiwan. It appears that folding the paper box is effortless, and its practicality has brought about a whopping production capacity. Using distributed flyers, this design is green design, which makes stacking easier, product life cycle longer on top of its ever-lasting popularity. Because of that Eureka moment, I have started to explore more about the everyday designs created by the non-designers. From those objects, we can see the untamed design thinking and its further exploration, showcasing the unique meaning and core nature. Only when we are set free from the so-called “design expertise” can we trigger the sensor for observing the everyday trivia and make new discoveries. We will realize that there are so many people who have incomparable “design” thinking and greater “self-initiated” implementation skills. They are capable of creating a whole new object which the designers are not able to. In a nutshell, those everyday objects usually are created to cater to certain needs, exemplifying how the “form follows function.” The self-made objects attending to basic needs can be easily found at the night markets’ makeshift lighting system (see the image), and the tables/chairs commonly spotted in the alleys or mountains (see the image). Another kind of design emerges to address the daily “pain points,” making over some existing design thinking prototypes. Those prototypes not only can be materialized, but can also bring some new elements into the products. For instance, a busy restaurant may have to work out a better way to provide tissues. Then it dawns on the owner that he could use a big bag holding more tissues inside. It will not only provide tissues to 4 people at the same time, but also stack more refill packs (see the image). Another good example will be how a street cleaner, responding to his own work habits, decomposes and personalizes a cleaning cart (see the image). Though all those “designs” may seem primitive, they go hand in hand with the principle of the Maker Movement and the altruistic Open Design concept. Quite a few of the designers have followed suit by reflecting on the most fundamental and purest design thinking process and creation. With little academic training or professional skill, everyone can make and own such open designs. What’s more, based on the existing designs, you and I can even go further, tapping into our own creative prowess to ameliorate or rejuvenate the designs.

 

              
自造桌與椅                                                           自造桌與椅                                                            自造桌與椅                                                           自造桌與椅

 

Through repeated experimentation, learning and experience acquisition, everyone has his own way of crystalizing the “design” concept. With the ongoing evolution of the world, environment, science and technologies, “design” has become more complicated, yet this specialized domain of knowledge has got more open. Recently, “design” has become a buzz word. In addition to the well-established fields, “design” is becoming more ubiquitous in various innovative subjects, evolutionary or revolutionary processes. Design no longer solely refers to the physical visual entities; service design, social design, food design, care design, universal design, user design, experience design, design thinking and so on have all mushroomed in a tangible manner. Without a doubt, everything and domain have something to do with design. Everyone can be a designer. However, while everyone can be a designer, it does not necessarily mean that the world does not need professional designers anymore. Rather, a professional designer should be someone who knows more about our needs. Equipped with more polished skills, broader knowledge and substantial hands-on experience along with the assistance of our industrial ecosystem, he should be able to come up with the best and most optimal design. We are facing insurmountable challenges. We have got to pass on the past experiences, to design for the opportunities at present, and most importantly to design for the foreseeable future. A modern designer should know how to adeptly respond to the ever-changing future. He should be broad-minded so as to wholeheartedly and avidly absorb different domains of knowledge. Having this kind of talents will enable us to establish a cornerstone, upon which different design concepts can better develop and we can have a better understanding of the future design landscape.

 

          
自造桌與椅                    改造成大容量的餐巾紙收納袋量身                                                      訂做清潔工具推車

         
訂做清潔工具推車                        訂做清潔工具推車                         訂做清潔工具推車