Tuesday, January 19, 2010


This afternoon, I met with my new mentor, Joseph, who is working on business development at TeachStreet. He talked about what he does, I talked about what I'm studying.

"Business and design," I say.
"Oh what concentration?" he asked.
"Marketing," I reply.
He nods.
"What do you study in design?" he asks.

I always dread this question. Most people assume I'm studying fashion, for some reason. Interior design is a close second. Graphics, a third.

Each time I attempt to explain what "design studies" is, I come up with something different. So I plunge into another explanation, throwing around words like "interdisciplinary" and "process." He pokes and prods at my explanation, determined to understand what I was trying to explain.

I pull up thoughts from August's class last quarter: The simple questions, have the most complex answers. The complex questions, have simple answers.

He wonders about it in relation to the UX design, which is what he's encountered at his startup. I struggle to explain how all design should be addressing a problem, in some form or another.

"It's about problem-finding," I explain.

And he gets it. "Never thought about design that way before," he tells me, "but it makes sense."

Finally. It makes sense to me too. Sort of.

This role of manager as designer is hardly mentioned in the literature, and barely acknowledged in business practice. ...Managers practice "silent design"...the many decisions taken by non-designers who enter directly into the design process, no matter how unaware they or others may be of their impact.
— Angela Dumas and Henry Mintzberg, Managing the Form, Function, and Fit of Design, 1991


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