Core Design Philosophy

Core Design Philosophy: Keep It Fun!

If you let it, any creative job will become drudgery. As difficult as it may be at times, keeping a lighthearted and playful approach to your work is key to avoid falling into such a trap.

All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.

– Pablo Picasso

This is truly one of the cornerstones of my design philosophy and I know this in direct defiance of the stereotypical artist or creative suffering for their work. If you let it, any creative job will become drudgery. As difficult as it may be at times, keeping a lighthearted and playful approach to your work is key to avoid falling into such a trap.

Reason 1: Keep an open mind

Keeping an open mind is the primary reason why it is so important to keeping design challenges a little playful. Simply put, it keeps you open to as many and as various possibilities as, well… possible. Sir Ken Robinson conducted a famous study that evidences the fact that as we grow up, we see a smaller and smaller set of possibilities (convergent thought). Even using the phrase “Grow up!” is such that the person saying it is telling you to see it just one way, usually being their own way of seeing the situation. The fact remains that when you see only one answer to a design question, you are neglecting an infinite amount of possibilities before you have even explored any of it. A good design process, being one that explores the possibility of design solutions. Or better yet, to redefine the design question altogether to one that can be more easily solved while adding another element to the final execution.

Reason 2: Explore the uncomfortable

The secondary reason to maintain a lighthearted and playful approach to your work is that it helps to explore parts of the project that you may feel uncomfortable exploring in a straightforward manner. In my experience, a golden example of this is the discussion of bathroom and bedroom habits. We all have these habits and yet we all feel so uncomfortable communicating them. These are important habits to explore if you are working on designing either of these types of rooms. As such, I suggest that you channel your inner child before you experience the discomfort of talking about such habits. Take the chance to explore what a bathroom or bedroom can be, and if you cannot do it as an “adult,” then use a little child-like humor. Potty humor can be a very good communicator of potty habits!

Reason 3: Life is difficult enough without making it more so

The third reason is that there is enough difficulty in life. If you spend the time dreading what ill may come, you do not open yourself up to a project’s true potential. By staying a bit playful, even the most dreaded tasks become less bothersome. For example, if you get too hung up on that morning commute, you will inevitably bring that negative energy to work generally dragging down the quality. Perhaps, turning that car into your personal karaoke booth can really help you rock it at work!

Reason 4: Help that energy last the whole day!

The fourth, final, and purely practical reason to this approach is that it gives you a bit of energy to spare at the end of the day to celebrate getting through! It also tends to energize the whole team you work with so that any after-hours business talk can happen without the conversation devolving into negativity. To quote Johnny Mercer and Pied Piper (or more famously Bing Crosby) Ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive!

And a special thank you to…

I feel that it is important that I credit this philosophy to my voice teacher, Karen Huffstodt, who helped me develop it. Karen adopted this core teaching philosophy from David Jones, who in turn learned it from Allen Rogers Lidquest. Lidquest’s philosophy of teaching was as follows:

“We teach the entire person, not just the voice. It is critical to work with a joyful and positive attitude, making learning a positive experience.”

– Allan Roger Liindquest

It is not only the whole body that tightens up to stress but also stress hinders the mind’s ability to feel ready to explore within a feeling of safety. Thank you, Karen, for teaching me in such a way, as it taught me to explore how to redefine the design questions altogether.

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