check out Days!

Field Study

An Unedited view of design and thought process:

work, experimental and otherwise by Keenan Cummings

You sell your expertise, you have a limited repertoire. You sell your ignorance, it’s an unlimited repertoire. [Eames] was selling his ignorance and his desire to learn about a subject, and the journey of him not knowing to knowing was his work.

—Richard Saul Wurman, discussing Charles Eames in Eames: The Architect and the Painter (via pieratt)

Sweet Textures, Bro!

I have no connection to Dribbble outside the fact that happily pay $20 a year to get much more that twenty bucks worth of value out of the experience. Dribbble is amazing. But it’s also a bit awkward. And like most awkward things, you can miss the goodness inside if you focus on the idiosyncrasies. 

First off, Dribbble is a real and very direct channel for independent designers to get work. It is delivering on a promise that professional organizations have been making for years: join up, get involved, grow your career. That value proposition is proven on Dribbble. With any other professional organization you join, that promise is dubious at best.

And this is important because (real talk here) things are looking kinda scary for designers. No one likes to talk about it. And it’s comforting to see that design budgets are growing and it’s becoming a focus for more and more companies. But supply is outpacing demand. I don’t have numbers on this. Just a bunch of friends struggling quietly, staying afloat, but worried about how long they can last, and I’ve been there many times before. Dribbble might be one channel to bootstrap an early design career. It might be a viable alternative to the agency salary-and-benefits route, especially at a time when those jobs are not as secure as they once were. 

The second point is much easier to miss. Dribbble’s pitch is that it’s a “show and tell for designers”, a place to share work and get feedback. But we all know that people are so damn nice on Dribbble that it’s hard to get anything but comments like “your graphic designs are literally blowing my mind” or “sweet texture bro”. As the world’s best feedback tool, Dribbble fails. 

But what the whole thing is really about is community. As more designers cut their agency ties and take up the cross of freelance work, Dribbble is stepping in as the place for workplace water-cooler chat. But instead of five fellow coworkers to chat with by the water-cooler, Dribbble is a freakin’ cafeteria packed with hundreds of fellow freelancers to chat with, share with, maybe even collaborate with. Dribbble isn’t just a better professional organization, it’s a better office space. If we stack it up next to the benefits a IRL office provides, it does a pretty great job. Getting design feedback is just one function of the office and it is probably the least interesting. No one develops loyalty to an office based on the groups technical feedback skills. An office is where you share news, commiserate, joke around, celebrate victories (personal and communal). 

If you’re not into it, don’t sign up, don’t pay, don’t share. But don’t underestimate this simple little service.

For some interesting further reading check out Clayton Christensen’s idea that we hire products for a job to be done

We often misunderstand what job we are really hiring a product for. I don’t think Dan Cederholm intended provide this breadth of services (community, career, social, etc) when he built Dribbble, but often the winners in a space fill in service gaps in new an unexpected ways. 

The conviction to pursue a course relentlessly based on a set of beliefs and then the willingness to change those beliefs and pursue again.

We’ve got session 3 of Designer’s Debate Club coming up on Wednesday, February 13th. The motion to be debated:
"Formal design education is necessary for practicing designers."
We are teaming up with the AIGA New York for this one and Parsons is hosting. All proceeds of this event go to benefit Inspire/Make Workshops: An AIGA/NY Initiative. Inspire/Make Workshops is a series of free classes for high-school students who want to learn how to design and develop for digital media.

Info & Tickets Here

We’ve got session 3 of Designer’s Debate Club coming up on Wednesday, February 13th. The motion to be debated:

"Formal design education is necessary for practicing designers."

We are teaming up with the AIGA New York for this one and Parsons is hosting. All proceeds of this event go to benefit Inspire/Make Workshops: An AIGA/NY Initiative. Inspire/Make Workshops is a series of free classes for high-school students who want to learn how to design and develop for digital media.

Info & Tickets Here

Letter-pressed business card for Koseli Cummings of Original Archiving Co.

Letter-pressed business card for Koseli Cummings of Original Archiving Co.

Interfaces aren’t a descriptions; they’re stories.

image

From George Plimpton’s interview with Ernest Hemingway, 1954:

Interviewer:

Do you make a distinction between “flat” and “round” characters?

Hemingway:

If you describe someone, it is flat, as a photograph is, and from my standpoint a failure. If you make him up from what you know, there should be all the dimensions.

This is why this conversation goes on, why it is worth having. The desire for more honest  (or at least more interesting) interfaces and a certain aesthetic have been lumped together and called “flat design”. I’m concerned with the deeper drive for mor pure interaction design, and there is more to it than altering your style or changing your habits in Photoshop. There is a fundamentally different process, something genuinely unique from print design. That difference goes much deeper than tools, and even defies directly translatable principles. “What’s good for print is good for digital” doesn’t hold up as a mantra of ‘flat’ design.

Read More

If I get up every day with the optimism that I have the capacity for growth, then that’s success for me.

~ Paula Scher (via Exp.lore)

Here’s to a year of growth and goodness.

IBM’s CEO Holiday Card, 2010, commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the company’s founding. This card was printed in a very limited number and I do know that one was sent to Obama. Great ice breaker if I should ever run into him at Gap or something.

IBM’s CEO Holiday Card, 2010, commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the company’s founding. This card was printed in a very limited number and I do know that one was sent to Obama. Great ice breaker if I should ever run into him at Gap or something.

A small gesture for the holiday season… In lieu of purchasing gifts and shipping them out to every person I know in this world and many that I do not know, I made these lil’ iPhone/iPad wallpapers. They may not seem like much, but they will brighten a barren homescreen and warm your heart. Follow the links below to grab the iPhone 4, iPhone 5, and iPad versions.
Download “Brownstone” Wallpaper
Download “Regrow” Wallpaper
Download “Watch” Wallpaper

A small gesture for the holiday season… In lieu of purchasing gifts and shipping them out to every person I know in this world and many that I do not know, I made these lil’ iPhone/iPad wallpapers. They may not seem like much, but they will brighten a barren homescreen and warm your heart. Follow the links below to grab the iPhone 4, iPhone 5, and iPad versions.

Download “Brownstone” Wallpaper

Download “Regrow” Wallpaper

Download “Watch” Wallpaper

I see software as the testing ground for the future, a place where we can put on our training wheels and get our ethics right and develop cultural and social norms for how technology should relate to humans.

Jonathan Harris, Founder of Cowbird

speaking at CreativeMornings/NewYork (*watch the talk)

I am more than optimistic about the ability of technology to go deeper, for our relationship to technology to become more intimate and meaningful, and, in turn, our relationships with each other. This will have less to do with the capability of engineering and more to do with the capability of users. We do not engineer meaning, but we can engineer things that pull wonderful things out of people. If you believe people are no more than like-button clicking machines you should be working to change that, or you should not be working for the internet.

From the archives: Christmas Party Flier

From the archives: Christmas Party Flier

We owe a huge thank you to all the folks who organized the Etsy Holiday Shop (a truly amazing space that is well worth a visit if you are in NYC) and invited Designer’s Debate Club to be a part of it. The debate was as hilarious as it was heated, and I think we all went home feeling a little more confident that the world’s problems are being taken care of, one debate at a time. But for reals, the debaters did an amazing job, along with our magnanimous moderator Cameron.

This is just the start for Designer’s Debate Club. Each event can only get better from here. We’re working on v2 of the site so you can track when the next event is coming, sign up for a newsletter, submit topic ideas, read up on past events, and maybe even discuss the issues right there. For now, follow @DesignDebaters to keep abreast of developments. Your foes on the debate floor and friends in life, Jon and Keenan.