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29 Things that All Young Designers Need to Know


Garry Tan on Designer Humility

A humble designer is one who affects no change indeed. Designers should be less humble. When engineers or business guys or management or *anyone* makes a product lousier, they should get up and shout, and raise hell. Designers should NOT ‘know their place.’ Because if the powers that be keep their power, then we will continue to live in a barely working cesspool of compromises and bad experiences.

Apple wins because the guy who cares the most about user experience happens to run the show. And last I checked, humble wasn’t really a word you could use to describe him.

Posterous co-founder Garry Tan has bid adieu to his startup and is heading to Y Combinator, where he will serve as design advisor, guru and designer-in-residence to web-startups.
Here is a quote from a designer who love to code and draw boxes, and helps and inspires other people to code and draw boxes.

Tron concept designer doesn’t like reality

In a Wired article about the movie Tron: Legacy, accompanying an image of the stunning design for the movie’s light cycle (see picture above) I found this quote by its designer, Daniel Simon, who previously designed cars for Volkswagen and Bugatti. He found creating vehicles for Tron: Legacy a ‘liberating experience’:

“You have no idea how many limitations there are in real world car production, things like safety and marketing,” he says. “On screen, you can make some magic happen — you don’t have to think about Tron airbags.”

It made me smile. Here’s one designer who really doesn’t like the restrictions of designing for the real world, but wants to make ‘dream designs’. I’d say in Hollywood he’s in the right place.

Quite right!
Design is when fantasy meets the real life- with all its trappings.

Fred Brooks : How to Design Anything in Wired Interview

Photo: Master Planner: Fred Brooks Shows How to Design Anything

Its reference time again, Kelly Brooks, who’ve made the most insightful and useful and often ignored advice for anybody who’ve struggled with design and process. Great to hear about his new book, The Design of Design, and this wired magazine interview.


The most important single decision I ever made was to change the IBM 360 series from a 6-bit byte to an 8-bit byte, thereby enabling the use of lowercase letters. That change propagated everywhere.


Great design does not come from great processes; it comes from great designers


Start with a vision rather than a set of features.


You can learn more from failure than success. In failure you’re forced to find out what part did not work. But in success you can believe everything you did was great, when in fact some parts may not have worked at all. Failure forces you to face reality

and the most famous: 

You can’t accelerate a nine-month pregnancy by hiring nine pregnant women for a month. Likewise, you can’t always speed up an overdue software project by adding more programmers; beyond a certain point, doing so increases delays.

Brooks codified that precept 35 years ago in a small technical book, The Mythical Man-Month, which he named after the flawed assumption that more manpower meant predictably faster progress. Today, his insight is known as Brooks’ law. The book still sells 10,000 copies a year, and Brooks—who oversaw the creation of IBM’s System/360, the company’s most successful mainframe—is hailed as a legend. Wired’s founding executive editor, Kevin Kelly, spoke with Brooks to discuss the upside of failure, lowercase letters, and what we can learn from Apple.

Excerpts Follow: 

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Design and Food

IKEA’s take on a baking recepie book. Done as part of branding, or rather as a natural connect to the kitchen appliances supplied by IKEA.
Beautiful looking pics despite not knowing the names of most of them, had a very satiating experience….I’m hopeful that our own Samosa, Jalebi, Appam and punugulualso receive this love and attention.

Yes, Design does make a difference, and it could be edible!


We let ourselves be inspired by high fashion and Japanese minimalism. The idea of the book became to tone down the actual cake and put the ingredients in focus. The recipes are presented as graphic still-life portraits on a warm and colorful stage. And when you turn the page you see the fantastic result


Designers, Administrators, and Scientists

“Love what you do” is a phrase paraphrased umpteen times to highlight the importance of passion,  motivate the employees etc, and the ‘creatives’. These creatives are not just the designers but also the software developers and managers who are in quest of excellence and innovating their ways towards it, by their own means and in their own domain. The creatives always seem to be in a state of hopefulness to find their own ilk of people to get excited about the beauty, performance, and simplicity of their state of the art web2.0 applications, if we take the domain of the software apps 😉

With all the talk of passion, and loving what you do, and doing whatever you do with flair and excellence, I find the last month’s Paul Graham’s take on “The Top Idea in your Mind” poignant and relevant with respect to doing what you do.  He stresses that the Top idea in your mind, that is what you’d think while in shower, is in fact the most important work you can reasonably expect to accomplish. And if that top idea is not directly related to what you love doing, or need to be doing, what you’ll end up doing will not be what you’d have loved to do. It’ll sap all your energy, effort, and attention! And this is what is found in the Corollary (and have tweeted about):

Avoid becoming an administrator, or your job will consist of dealing with money and disputes!

Now of course, this is applicable only for those whose top idea in shower is a task other than Administration. For administrators and certain managers, dealing with money and disputes will, in fact, be the top idea. But yes, for the designers, developers, and design managers I’ve often talked to, a nagging mail, or a helpless situation indeed can become a driving force for couple of days. It would be safe to maybe slightly modify the statement to

Avoid becoming an administrator, or your job will consist of dealing with meetings, charts and bug counts!

Interestingly, this sort of advice is not unique to the domain of software development. In the world of scientists – a world much older and more organized than software, the same advice is as applicable.

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Delight and Joy

When a simple object is reinterpreted to create a whole new meaning, and actually makes sense in usage while giving a message, and having fun at it!

The Leaf tie is easy to use. It is simply used in the same manner as the cable-tie. All you have to do is wrap the Leaf Tie around the loose cables. The design of the Leaf tie makes the cables look like wrapped twigs. For young children or people that live in the city that tire from the artificially modern environment, the Leaf tie can for a short while let them experience a hint of nature.
– description from the Lufdesign site

Now it may actually look insignificant when you look at the array of cables and the cable management solutions that promise to solve all those problems for you. But then, the simplicity, and the delight it brings cannot be mistaken. There are many a products that works fine, and there should be more product that should make you smile. This does!
As Don Norman says about Visceral Design, “Visceral design is what nature does, it is biologically prewired! Visceral design is about how things look, feel and sound – the world of blue skies and apple pie” and the leaf ties fits like a T there. And yes its only $7 a pack, and profits made from this product are used to benefit causes for ecology campaign.

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