An Improved Intellectual Toolkit

No designer’s toolkit is truly empty.

Throughout quarter one I’ve experienced a massive shift in how I’ve had to behave, think, and analyze. The term thrown in the deep end doesn’t even come close to how this program has worked in my experience. I’ve struggled a great deal in theory with the terminology used around design. The walls constructed around design in some of these readings I found entirely unnecessary. Some of these readings have been thick, and difficult to digest. At times I’ve felt better diving into the dictionary for readable material….

However, as we wrap up our theory course I now see the value in the readings we were presented with, most especially these unit four readings. Something that the readings before these have not explored was a space for inclusivity. I believe that design can be used to benefit humankind and should be accessible to all. I did my best to interweave the readings that spoke to me throughout my own experiences. After our last presentation our teacher, Scott, posed to me several questions that I could get much more value out of than the rubric that was presented to us.

The questions were;
What are the questions I am asking?
What are criteria I see for decision making?
What new intellectual tools have I picked up?

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I start out my writing to with a story and photo about my voyage to Australia. I took this photograph north of Newcastle whilst “duning” with two friends of mine. The photo captures a woman with a board that we used to slide down massive hills of sand on. The photo represents what I think to be a common view of Australia, a beach, a board, a truck, and the ocean in the distance. I was sold on going to Australia for work from these friends of mine. I heard things about how easy it was to find a job, with an economy that strong, I could get a fruit picking job by just showing up somewhere. This to me, now sounds like the instagram version of my experience. What you might see on the surface is not exactly what is going on in reality….
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My second photo contains a blurred view of a dog chomping on the leg of a kangaroo. This was my reality of Australia. Several months in Surat, Queensland in the middle of nowhere on a cattle ranch feeding the dogs and herding cattle. As I looked through my photos, I thought of defining the problem space I encountered abroad. This seemed to me like an ill structured problem I had created for myself. I was knee deep in a problem space that had no simple solution. There was no eject button.

A quote that spoke to me from Chris Pacione’s reading was “I’ll go a step further and say that design is like reading, writing, and arithmetic, something everyone should do, everyone can and should be taught to do, and many are starting to do.” I share the photo below of a child learning how to assemble a laser cut lamp I helped construct during my time at a fabrication lab in Spain. We held an open house, and all were welcome to assemble the flat cardboard lamp into a functioning 3-dimensional lamp in a matter of minutes! It’s activities like these that solidify my belief that design really is for all, it’s just a matter of how one is able to digest it.

Jocelyn Wyatt stated that “ One of the biggest impediments to adopting design thinking is fear of failure. I did my best to convey my failures above and in class. I’ve tried many “professions” and given career paths a go, however nothing has seemed to stick. The last two years I was able to participate in the construction of a temporary city in the Black Rock Desert two hours north of Reno, Nevada. I worked amongst a team of people who construct the Burning Man event. Essentially we’re posed with no guidance, only a single GPS point, to create a grid to house 70,000 participants. I feel my experience here relates to Richard Buchanan’s explanation of design is for all.

I reached a point where I’m able to understand and digest the readings in unit 4. I’m walking away from theory excited about being able to finally digest these readings. It took a long time but I feel confident about my newfound abilities in design literacy.