Throughout my career, I’ve been influenced and inspired by many people, books, and experiences that have shaped my approach to the work. But there are a few who’s philosophy and perspectives have become part of my designer DNA and ethos.
By internalizing their teachings and perspective and evolving from them, I can attribute the foundation of my design practice and leadership to these influential people, who continue to inspire me and constantly renew my passion for design:
Charles and Ray Eames
“The details are not the details. They make the product.”
Not only were Ray and Charles an amazing couple well known for their modern furniture design, they pioneered work in film, environments, textiles, and architecture, and pushed the boundaries of what design means and could be. Their bar for quality and attention to detail are why I exude the mantra that the details are what separates good from great.
When asked by Madame L’Amic, curator of the exhibition “Qu’est ce que le design? (What is Design?)” at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais de Louvre in 1972, Charles Eames responds:
Q: “What are the boundaries of Design?”
A: “What are the boundaries of problems?”
“Design is the ability to imagine a future and systematically execute that vision. So if you think about what all designers do, they’re all futurists. They’re all thinking about what’s going to happen. They’re going to make something new happen in the world. They’re all trying to make the world a better place. I’ve yet to meet a designer who wakes up in the morning thinking, “I think we could do something worse.” That’s not our mandate. That ability to create a vision is one of the most powerful tools that a designer has. We don’t really understand how powerful it is — it’s an incredible power to create the future by showing somebody what it looks like.”
Dieter is a goldmine of quotes and inspiration, especially his ten principles for good design. Modern, minimal, and timeless, his “as little design as possible” philosophy always has me pushing teams to find the elegance in a solution, paring it back to its essence. Distill complexity, expose simplicity. But I find his approach to life and expectations for designers even more intriguing.
“Good designers must always be avant-gardists, always one step ahead of the times. They should — and must — question everything generally thought to be obvious. They must have an intuition for people’s changing attitudes. For the reality in which they live, for their dreams, their desires, their worries, their needs, their living habits.They must also be able to assess realistically the opportunities and bounds of technology.”
Brigitte Borja de Mozota
“Design is a management tool that creates differentiation in the internal capabilities of the company. Design is no longer seen as the output of design-form, but as a creative and management process that can be integrated into other organization processes, such as idea management, innovation management, and research and development management, and that modifies the traditional structure of process management in a company.”
Brigitte is a researcher in management science, and wrote one of the first books I read on Design Management, which became my handbook. Her work on The Four Powers of Design clearly outlines a balanced scorecard approach to measuring and communicating Design’s impact.
These leaders have shaped my design leadership approach, my practice, and inspired me to shape the world around me. I hope by sharing this it will move others to learn more about them and become inspired themselves.