We shape our world

from Frank Chimero's The Shape of Design

We shape our world, and our world shapes us.

“I never sing anything I can’t play,” said Louis Armstrong, “and I never play anything I can’t sing.”

Art, craft, and design — broadly conceived — are perhaps the most consciously reflexive of human activities.

Thus the act of design becomes a metaphor for the life intentionally lived. We imagine how things might be — and then we seek to facilitate the emergence of our visions. “All that we do, almost all the time, is design,” wrote Victor Papanek back in 1971.

Yesterday I read Frank Chimero’s delicate and deft The Shape of Design.

A few passages:

There are two successful outcomes when a design focuses on its audience: resonance and engagement. Stories speak to the first and frameworks to the latter. Frameworks are the structures that allow for contributions to be made to the products of design, and increasingly, it has become the work of the designer to create these frameworks.

The most important element of delightful design is empathy. Clarity and surprise are only achievable through empathy with the audience.

[I]f you look closely, and ignore the things that do not matter, what comes into focus is simply this: there is the world we live in and one that we imagine. It is by our movement and invention that we inch closer to the latter. The world shapes us, and we get to shape the world.

Image by Frank Chimero, from chapter 7; Louis Armstrong quote from They Became What They Beheld; h/t to recent conversations with Sheldon Renan and John Sorenson

  • Jerry Michalski 3 Aug 2012, 11:10 am

    Along your theme, have you heard David Whyte’s poem Working Together? He recites it in this TEDx talk, along with its background, which is interesting too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ss1HuA1hIk&feature=related

    • Howard Silverman 3 Aug 2012, 11:36 am

      Ah. Had not heard it. Love the repetition. Thanks.

      I recently had the opportunity to see/hear Humberto Maturana speak, at the cybernetics and systems science conferences, of “structural coupling,” an “organism-niche unity.”

      “It turns out that you are part of my niche today.”

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