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Field Study

An Unedited view of design and thought process:

work, experimental and otherwise by Keenan Cummings

Really enjoyed sharing some thoughts with the community at last night’s Design + Tech event. Eric Jacobsen and I soap-boxed for twenty or so minutes about working as a designer/developer team. Most of our slides are represented above, but I thought I’d pull in some of the main points that resonated with the audience based on their tweets from the night. 
—
"Empathy is the most important thing a designer can learn:"
This is something I believe designers often mistakenly refer to as ‘taste’.  Being able to synthesize the personal tastes of a large group of people and express that is an act of empathy. Example: Detecting a shaky sense of American identity amidst a growing global culture, mashing that up with a renewed American entrepreneurialism and self-made-man ethic due to a struggling and unsure economy, and expressing that in the form of a bespoke leather wallet or hand-crafted all-American axe has much more to due with empathy than an Urban-Outfittrian mystical sense of taste. Good taste is personal; empathy is universal. 
—
"Sci Fiction = Better design (if you want to work with developers, read sci-fi)"
In all seriousness, it is a baseline for every developer I know. Sci-fi writing is probably the first creative industry to successfully combine real imaginative creative work with rigorous engineering and logic. A lot to learn from that process alone. And the stuff is just plain cool. If you want to build things for the web, become obsessed with the near future you are building toward. 
—
"You have to decide what to unlearn and what to focus on. You only have so much brain space"
The language I use is “cull” and “edit”, pulled from and excellent article in issue 1 of The Manual. Asses what you are filling your mind with and make a conscious decision to perma-delete the knowledge that doesn’t absolutely drive you to create (Pantone? paper weights and textures? print techniques? Flash?). Replace it with the ancillary skills that will allow you to execute (code? info architecture? UX? UI? anthropology?).
—
"It’s really about doing stuff"
Self explanatory. At the end of the day, just produce tons of work, and make sure some of it is interesting. Put your side project at the front of your portfolio. That work says more about you than anything else.
—
"Everything matters"
Respect every part of your work and the work of the people you work with. We put time into the details because they matter to us and to the people you collaborate with. Give props, show respect, 4 lif.
—
"Love + Hatred = Passion"
People who have an unnatural hatred of things they view as ‘wrong’, and clear and intense love of what they view as ‘right’ — those are passionate people that you want to work with. Avoid fence-sitters.
—
"Stop Talking Start Making"
In the Spirit of General Assembly’s recent campaign, stop talking, start making. Again, it’s about doing stuff. Nothing matters more than execution. 
—
Thanks to Google + Photoshop for several of the above images. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Really enjoyed sharing some thoughts with the community at last night’s Design + Tech event. Eric Jacobsen and I soap-boxed for twenty or so minutes about working as a designer/developer team. Most of our slides are represented above, but I thought I’d pull in some of the main points that resonated with the audience based on their tweets from the night. 

"Empathy is the most important thing a designer can learn:"

This is something I believe designers often mistakenly refer to as ‘taste’.  Being able to synthesize the personal tastes of a large group of people and express that is an act of empathy. Example: Detecting a shaky sense of American identity amidst a growing global culture, mashing that up with a renewed American entrepreneurialism and self-made-man ethic due to a struggling and unsure economy, and expressing that in the form of a bespoke leather wallet or hand-crafted all-American axe has much more to due with empathy than an Urban-Outfittrian mystical sense of taste. Good taste is personal; empathy is universal. 

"Sci Fiction = Better design (if you want to work with developers, read sci-fi)"

In all seriousness, it is a baseline for every developer I know. Sci-fi writing is probably the first creative industry to successfully combine real imaginative creative work with rigorous engineering and logic. A lot to learn from that process alone. And the stuff is just plain cool. If you want to build things for the web, become obsessed with the near future you are building toward. 

"You have to decide what to unlearn and what to focus on. You only have so much brain space"

The language I use is “cull” and “edit”, pulled from and excellent article in issue 1 of The Manual. Asses what you are filling your mind with and make a conscious decision to perma-delete the knowledge that doesn’t absolutely drive you to create (Pantone? paper weights and textures? print techniques? Flash?). Replace it with the ancillary skills that will allow you to execute (code? info architecture? UX? UI? anthropology?).

"It’s really about doing stuff"

Self explanatory. At the end of the day, just produce tons of work, and make sure some of it is interesting. Put your side project at the front of your portfolio. That work says more about you than anything else.

"Everything matters"

Respect every part of your work and the work of the people you work with. We put time into the details because they matter to us and to the people you collaborate with. Give props, show respect, 4 lif.

"Love + Hatred = Passion"

People who have an unnatural hatred of things they view as ‘wrong’, and clear and intense love of what they view as ‘right’ — those are passionate people that you want to work with. Avoid fence-sitters.

"Stop Talking Start Making"

In the Spirit of General Assembly’s recent campaign, stop talking, start making. Again, it’s about doing stuff. Nothing matters more than execution. 

Thanks to Google + Photoshop for several of the above images. We couldn’t have done it without you.

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