In this visual essay, I am making an outline of a thrilling journey of intellectual exploration of reality through Design. As per the notion that was given to me by my favorite School of Visual Arts mentor Sarah Giovanitti, I am a Designer with a capital "D" and until very recently I couldn't grasp the full extent of this concept. I have been putting together my thoughts about this for a while now, but just a few minutes ago we came back from our favorite coffee shop where something amazing happened: We had a breakfast and were sitting in the rounded faux leather booth with a rounded table in the middle. I left my phone in the car hoping that I will be more present for a conversation but still had to apologize to my husband Dino, for being consumed by my thoughts for this essay. We were done and were about to leave. I got up, and to my surprise, my head bumped into a huge rounded orange lamp that was hanging above us all that time. I do have a bit of a history bumping my head into things, but this was different! Wow! - just ran through my mind... Is this what just happened? Is this the pure definition? A product of Design, an idea... An idea of a lamp hanging above the rounded booth just literally bumped into my head... I am really onto something here! Thank you, Universe!
Design is where ideas meet reality.
Thanks to the advances in technology, we are entering the new and exciting era where freedom, creativity, and intelligence become the driving force of the progress. There are more than 7 billion of us on the planet Earth and it means that the Universe has more than 7 billion channels to funnel its cosmic ideas through.
As robotics and artificial intelligence work hard to liberate us from the pressures of physical existence, we find more time to not just be creative, but also productive by using new ways to express and realize our creativity. This is where Design happens: at the specific moment in time and place where ideas finally meet reality.
Designer in everyone.
By being an extension and expression of the Universe, there is a Designer in each of us and there hasn’t been a better time in the history of human civilization to unleash the creative genius and be a part of the amazing celebration of life and beauty. Design is the language of the Universe and being able to speak this language is the greatest gift and responsibility one can possess. I believe that we also have a responsibility to be productive every conscious minute of our lives. Productive as a complete opposite of busy. I learned that the process of creation is one of the surest things that make us happy. Creation with a goal in mind, that is when we are productive at the most.
Happiness and Beauty.
Design is a celebration of life. If being productive by creating and bringing cosmic ideas into reality is the ultimate purpose of our existence, then there are no happier beings in this World than those who do it. The process of Design is very similar to the creation of chemical bonds, just like when a snowflake is formed, a bond is made and energy is released. Only that Design operates in emotional dimension as well as physical, therefore the energy release happens in the form of happiness. It’s amazing to realize that the process of creating Beauty is the World’s largest power plant and an infinite resource of energy and happiness for generations to come. Why do we find certain things or ideas to be beautiful? I believe that we are subconsciously attracted to gazing at the intelligence that shines through what we perceive. The more intelligent it is, the more beautiful it will come across.
Ever since my first class at the School of Visual Arts in New York I’ve been struggling with composing my response to the definition of Art. Though, just 8 years later, lessons of life have put it all in the right perspective. Ideas contained in a box are not any better than those that are still brewing in ones’ head. Productivity is crucial to our existence and producing something solely for a purpose of intellectual entertainment isn’t good enough. Art is hanging on the wall, while Design is moving us forward. We don't exist if we don't move, so the Designers of this World have an assignment to fulfill: create, build, expand, evolve, move us towards our destiny and, of course, enjoy all of the above in the process.
When I went to engineering school back in Russia, science was my best friend and it did a good job at interpreting reality at that point. Not until I’ve hit the wall of limitations that are engraved in the whole concept of science. Science is great at transcribing ideas. Transcribing as putting ideas in a box constructed with words and rules created in the past. Science cannot be 100% objective because it has to rely on a set of artificially described concepts. Yes, an apple might have fallen on Newton's head, but the moment he wrote it down, the actual event has been diluted to what a written or spoken language had to offer at the moment. At one point the ideas are related to reality, however as reality evolves and expands, many ideas that thought to be written in stone of spoken language, have become obsolete and appear as a mere decor on top of a true meaning. Design finds an answer in a specific point in time where science might fail to interpret reality.
One fact that we know about the Universe is that it is always expanding and changing. Let's don't be so hard on ourselves! It’s not our fault, but we are addicted to newness and it shows in our culture, the consumer economy and social behavior. Let’s not fight it, but rather go along with it and use the Cosmic Intelligence & Design to make it a sustainable journey.
I am proud of our generation. We are opening our eyes and finally waking up our senses. Millennials to me are the first generation of human beings that takes being conscious very seriously. We don’t want to numb our feelings, put our head in the sand, but are willing to face the reality with all its problems and abundance of eternal beauty and opportunities. We are finally realizing that our purpose in life is not to be a part of an industrial/corporate contraption with its artificial motivational tricks and gimmicks. Thankfully, technology is setting us free and there are so many ways to express our creativity in a productive way, like never before. Our biggest asset is what on the inside and there is no reason to give up your freedom in exchange for the comfort of corporate benefits. We found our purpose and going full-steam with it!
It’s an amazing time to be alive! You can simply go down the street or look at the grocery store shelve to see the cosmic intelligence peaking through branding, marketing, displays, packaging design at an unprecedented level like never before. We are no longer appealing to our animal instincts. We are done with quick and easy plastics, but going back to eternal and sustainable basics that Universe has given us. Through amazing Design we are now talking directly to the cosmic intelligence inside of each of us and it feels great! Kudos to you, Millennials.
The universal language.
Design is the language of the Universe and in our dimension, it is the only truly universal way to exchange and realize ideas. Russian, Chinese and English dominated intellectual output of the past generations, but in the new era of creative intelligence & Design, we are moving past spoken and written languages and embracing the universal way of expression. After all, spoken language is just as artificial as the artificial ideas it describes.
Design is a process, a process that actualizes thoughts and bringing them into reality. Spoken ideas are unrealized ideas queued for execution and a vast majority of them will never make it into reality. The language of Design, on the other hand, is spoken by everyone: from the moment a baby learns to hold a spoon, she starts speaking Design by interacting with it, touching it, seeing it. A simple spoon or any other product of design could be successfully used in the Americas or Russia, or Bangladesh without any instructions. Great Design will be understood, though with minor cultural deviations, it will be the same for everyone. As I am typing this right now, advances in user experience and user interface design & technology are moving us towards the abandonment of spoken languages making them just a piece of decor on top of the true meaning expressed through Design.
Design is the language of the Universe, anyone can understand it, but those who can speak it fluently are the luckiest beings alive. There will be a time when written and spoken languages will vanish and when ideas will flow freely without the constraints and limitations of the past.
Design Thinking is very different from what happens inside your head. It is not a process of spinning words or concepts created by someone who came before you. A good part of it happens outside of our minds and this is how the Universe shares its wisdom with us, Designers. Design thinking happens on the edge of physical, emotional, sensorial and intellectual realms, it is much more dimensional and expansive, thus much more effective when it comes to bringing ideas into reality.
We need more Designers in politics! Designers naturally distant their egos from a decisionmaking process, they are better at seeing the bigger picture and focus on providing solutions through Design Thinking. Designers are doers and talkers. After all, they are channeling the wisdom of the Universe, so wouldn't it be great to be governed by the same principles that created all that is?
The Power of Visualization.
We always move towards our vision, this is where the power of visualization lies. We can make a conscious decision to design an idea in order to validate and make it a legitimate goal to pursue. Real Estate developers start from creating beautiful renderings of future projects to get the Universe, as well as investors onboard. There is an opportunity for all of us, including our politicians, to start visualizing the future we want to build. Not just talk about it, but actively visualizing it.
Design and Faith.
Design is a process of bringing an idea into reality, a process of putting an action into a belief.
Anyone can comprehend the language of Design, however fluently speaking it is a virtue of well-trained Designers. I believe that formal education is one of the most efficient and credible ways of developing a “design muscle”. In this day and age when every other TV personality comes out with a “design advice book” on a weekly basis, it’s easy to get distracted. Great Designers who fluently speak Design, often become victims of the societal and economic atavisms of the past when Design was treated nearly as decor. But strongest will survive, it’s the truth for Designers as well.
I see our Culture as a collection of labels. No one likes labels, but labels are a necessary tool we can not live without. They are a cultural language that we use to keep things concise. Labels are compacted concepts that help us to keep things on the move and save time - our greatest commodity. Here is where the opportunity lies for a Designer - redefining a label is like adding a totally new word into a dictionary. It is exciting! Designers create culture by compacting, visualizing and bringing into existence ideas that otherwise would float like soup in the infinite matrix of the Universe.
Even though there are so many great ideas out there, not all of them will meet the reality. I look at the Economy as a fertile soil that helps to grow our ideas. While Universe is infinite, Human Society is not, and therefore there is a limited amount of resources that could be allocated to bringing an idea into existence. As Designers, we must always think about how our ideas will make an economic sense. Designers are in the business of Creation and just like in any business, there is a bottom line to keep in perspective.
There is no doubt that the majority of the testosterone-powered fossil fuel-burning corporations created by the previous generations will cease to exist. They are in unfair competition with the new generation of soft and intelligent power of Design that gradually overtakes economic and political landscapes. Designers create the World around us. Every Design decision is like a drop in the ocean, some of them will resonate with the Universe and become a powerful tide. A powerful tide that could either sweep and destroy or build and create Beauty on the whole new level!
We trust what we see with our own eyes, hear with our own ears, touch with our own hands, therefore it’s harder to believe in ideas that have not yet been designed. It’s our nature to instinctively trust our senses. Ideas that have been brought into reality through Design completed a rigorous process of validation and actualization in the World we live in, hence they come across as more trustworthy. It’s not the medium where ideas were actualized matters, but the fact that they were made real and that makes them more tangible and yes, valuable!