Part 1: Design Master’s Teaching

Aphorisms of Design Part One


Student: Master, can design be summarized in just one sentence?

Design Master: No.

Student: Why?

Design Master: Exactly. Now go practice.


Design Master: Design is neither right nor wrong.

Student: But I can surely tell good design from bad one.

Design Master: Until you create it.


Student: I want to do social good through design. How should I start?

Design Master: Go become a politician and claim yourself a designer.


One day Design Master feels nostalgic: When I was young, I had an archenemy MasterDesigner who laughed off my works. I’m so glad he cared.


Student: Please enlighten me about the ultimate meaning of UX.

Design Master: That I know not, because the user is not like me.


Wanna-be designer: I want to be a famous designer.

Design Master: Famous or designer?

Wanna-be designer: Why not both?

Design Master: Then neither.


Design Master continues: To be a designer, you are; to be famous, go design a visually stunning and functionally acceptable citrus squeezer.


Student: Is service design just a hype?

Design Master: You saw it coming, and I saw it coming, we all saw it coming, and we still bought it.


Student: Is there Tao or Zen of Design?

Design Master: There’s Tao and there’s Zen, but not of design; there was, however, design of both.


Student: Can interactions be designed?

Design Master: Can I say yes?

Student: And UX?

Design Master: Can I say no?

Student: Why?

Design Master: Such so.


Design Master: When design beckons, follow him, though hard and steep. When his thinking enfold, yield to him, though it may wound you.


Student: Can design be realized as a form of pure art?

Design Master: What is design but creativity tortured by the users’ wants and needs?


Student: Can all problems be solved by design?

Design Master: The problem and the design are one, even as the user and the designer are one.


Design Master: You design for problem and for need; would that you design also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of creativity.


Student: How much design is enough?

Design Master: Ever has it been that you know not your work’s depth until the hour of user interaction.


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Design Master: When users speak to you listen to them, though their nonsense may shatter your designs as the north wind lays waste the garden.


Student: Is design liberal?

Design Master: Even as design empowers you so shall it limit you; even as it’s for growth so is it for your pruning.


Design Master tells Student: When you design you should not say, ‘creativity is in my flow,’ but rather, ‘I am in the flow of creativity.’


Student: Is design a form of art or vice versa?

Design Master: Art is creativity unmasked; but design your mere shallow grab of user need unmasked.


Design Master: As design ascends to your creativity and enables your best work, so shall it shake your beliefs in their clinging to the ego.


Design Master: Think not you can direct the course of design, for design, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Designee would you be.


Design Master: Like sheaves of corn design gathers you unto it. It threshes you to make you empathetic. It sifts you to free you from your perspectives.


Design Master continues: It grinds you to your clarity. It kneads you until you are reflective.


Design Master continues: And then it assigns you to its creative niche, that you may become the innovative drive for your users’ desperate needs.


Design Master: To know the pain of over-design. To be wounded by your own understanding of design. To accept failure willingly and joyfully.


Design Master: Wake at dawn with a new idea and give thanks for another day of designing; rest at the noon hour and meditate design’s ecstasy.


Student: What is innovation to design?

Design Master: Design and innovation were born together, and together they shall be for evermore.


Design Master: Design and innovation shall be together when the market mentality scatter your works, and even in the most mundane task.


Design Master: Let there be spaces in the togetherness of design and innovation. Let the winds of social responsibility dance between them.


Design Master: Afford one another, but make not a bond of dependence. Let it rather be a moving sea between wants and needs, designers and users.


Student: What could be said about Google Glass’ design? I read people disputing its use and abuse.

Design Master: You have been assimilated.


Student: Is there anything for interactivity like Turing Test for AI?

Design Master: Is there anything for marriage like orgasm for sex?


Design Master: Bring each designer’s idea but make not from one idea. Give one another of your opinion but judge not from the same debate.


Design Master: Design together but let each of you be alone. Even as the string of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.


Student: What’s user-centred?

Design Master: Give your hearts, but not into the users’ keeping. For only design of Life can contain your hearts.


Design Master: Design with your peers together yet not too near; for pillars stand apart, collaboration grows not in each other’s shadow.


Student: Can design be owned?

Design Master: Your designs are not your children, but the wants and needs of users’ longing for themselves.


Design Master: Your designs come through you but not from you. And though they’re with you yet they belong not to you, but to humble users.


Student: How do we choose for users?

Design Master: You may give users their options but not your choice. For they have their own choices.


Design Master: You may design interactions but not UX. For UX dwell in space-time of actual use, which you cannot prime, not even in your dreams.


Design Master: You may strive to be like the users, but seek not to make them like you. For users think not like you nor bother with design.


Design Master: You give but little when you give of your ideas, which are things you keep and guard for fear others may prove them wrong tomorrow.


Design Master: There are designers who give little, and they design for recognition and their hidden desire makes their designs unwholesome.


Design Master: There are designers who have little and give it all. These are the believers in design, and their coffer is never empty.


Design Master: There are designers who design with joy as reward. There are designers who design with pain as their social responsibility.


Student: Are wearables hype?

Design Master: Is a call-making, message-texting, video-shooting, health-tracking, todo-listing condom better?


Design Master: Some designers don’t design with responsibility but as in yonder industries the capitalist breathes their greed into market.


Design Master: It is well for designer to design when asked, but it is better to design unasked, through understanding and responsibility.


Design Master: All your designs shall someday be criticized, therefore design now. You often say, I would design, but only for the deserving.


Design Master: See first that you deserve to be a designer, and an instrument of designing. For in truth it is design that gives unto problem.


Design Master: When you annoy users say to them in your heart: ‘By the same problem that slays you, I too am slain; and I too shall be consumed.’


Design Master: When you design you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the users turns to ideas.


Design Master: When you design you fulfil a part of user’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born, shattered, or given up.


Design Master: To solve problems through design is to be intimate with the users’ inmost insight.

Student: So that is empathy.

Design Master: Nope.


Student: What is wrong with wanting to change the world?

Design Master: The means is the end, and wants and needs are different bustards.


Student: Are there fundamental differences between good design and bad one?

Design Master: You see, good design takes time, so does bad one.


Student: Can design save the world?

Design Master: Can sex save your relationship, love your life, money your job, licence your marriage?


Design Master: ‘I too am a user, my problems shall be gathered for the synthesis, and like a user I shall be kept in the design process.’


Design Master: Design is indeed a buzzword save when there are real world problems, and all problems are vain save when there is empathy.


Design Master: What is it to design with empathy? To weave the solution with creativity, even as if the users were to solve their problems.


Design Master continues: To design with empathy is to build a solution with affection, even as if the users were dwell in that solution.


Design Master: To design with empathy is to sow ideas with need and reap the service with joy, even as if the users were to use the service.


Design Master: To design with empathy is to synthesize with breaths of user needs, and to know that all users are standing about and watching.


Design Master: Design is problem made solvable. And if you cannot design with empathy but only with ego, it is better that you should leave.


Design Master: If you grudge the understanding of the problems, it distills a poison in the solution. So long and thanks for all the poison.


Student: If every Wicked Problem is a symptom of another problem, aren’t we trapped in regression leading to…?

Design Master: Don’t panic.


Student: How is design related to innovation?

Design Master: Mythologically.

Student: Why so?

Design Master: Exactly. Now go get sober, son.


Design Master: You are the bows from which your design as arrows are sent forth. User bends you with his needs that his arrows may go swift.


Student: Is there Chicken Soup for design?

Design Master: Masturbation never works. And there is no way to fake design orgasms for users.


Design Master: If you design though as professionals, and care not the problem, you muffle your own ears to the voices of the users.


Design Master: Your design is user needs unmasked. The needs from which it rises are oftentimes filled with insights. How else can it be?


Student: Can a design ever be perfect?

Design Master: Can a designer be?

Student: Probably not?

Design Master: Isn’t truth still out there?


Design Master: Let the designer listen and add to their learning — for understanding wants and needs, the goals and riddles of the user.


Student: Is design a form of art or vice versa?

Design Master: Design without users in mind is mere art; art made for users is barely design.


Design Master: Design is the ultimate amphibology, fusing designer values and user needs into which that is more than a Vulcan mind meld.


Student: Why users can’t notice the details I put in my design?

Design Master: It may be Change Blindness but more likely you being blind.


Student: Can innovation be managed?

Design Master: You start a fire and can manage its size and duration, but the exact shape of your fire?


Student: What’s the difference between art and design?

Design Master: What’s that between to be and let be? Expression and dedication? No?


Design Master: There is a fine line between chaos and creation, art and design, product and service, innovation and innovaintion.


Student: Is there a defining trait that can be observed in good designers?

Design Master: It depends.

Student: And?

Design Master: Exactly. Class dismissed.


Student: I want to buy Apple Watch.

Design Master: So you should.

Student: You’re an Apple fan too?

Design Master: I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing.


Student: How is phenomenology related to design?

Design Master: You need to find a Daseigner to answer that, and thank her for the fish.


Design Master: The deeper your empathy carves into your being, the more design problems you can solve. User is not like you, but you are.


Student: What would it be like when Design Thinking goes wrong?

Design Master: It depends on what you would be sinking about at that time.


Student: Is the best interface no interface?

Design Master: Is best love no kiss, best couple no sex, best marriage no license, you no ego?


Student: Can Design Thinking be a company’s new competitive advantage?

Design Master: Yes, as long as no one knows what it means or implies.


Design Master: Look deep into your design and you shall find it is only that which has given you problems that is giving you solutions.


Student: What is Innovative Design ?

Design Master: What is innovative and what is design? That, my son, is the question to deliberate.


Design Master: When in sorrow, look again in your design, you shall see you are frustrated by that which has been your source of delight.


Design Master: Build of your imaginings a context in the problem space ere you build an artifact within the walls of users and markets.


Design Master: Your design is your external mind. It grows in the design process and matures in the humaneness of the solution for users.


Design Master: And tell me, what have you in these designs? And what is it you guard with fastened doors? User need or designerly feeling.


Design Master: Have you focus, the quiet urge that reveals your design? Have you empathy, the glimmering that spans the summits of the mind?


Design Master: Have you beauty, that leads design from things fashioned of features and forms to the elegant simplicity? Have you really?


Design Master: Have you only design, and the lust for it, the stealthy thing that traps a user and then becomes a host, and then a master?


Design Master continues: Ay, and your design becomes a tamer, and with hook and courge makes puppets of your larger desires. Have you really?


Design Master: Verily the lust for design murders the needs of the users, and then walks grinning in the funeral of more elegant solutions.


Design Master: Your design shall be not a fix but a solution. Not a glistening film that covers a wound, but an eyelid that guards the eye.


Design Master: You shall not shut up that the clients may be pleased, nor shall you fear to disrupt lest design should crack and fall down.


Design Master: And though you seek in design the empathy for the users you may find in it a harness, a chain and a spoonful of insights.


Design Master: The breath of design is in empathy, the face of it interface, the hand of it interaction, and the fate of it experience.


Design Master: Some of you say, ‘It is designers who create products we use.’ I say, Ay, it is. But shame are their ignorance of empathy.


Design Master: I say, ay, design is critical, so are designers. But forget not that modesty is for a shield against the eye of the unclean.


Design Master: Forget not that users delight to feel comfortable using your product and ay, the designs shall concord with your empathy.


Design Master: To you the users yield their requirements and problems, and you shall not design if you but know how to use your empathy.


Design Master: It is in communicating the ideas of design, or in exploring the problems, that you shall find abundance and be satisfied.


Design Master: Unless the design process be in synergy and empathy, it will but lead some to disappointment and others to misery.


Design Master: It is when in the market-place that you toilers of design meet the users and the stakeholders and the makers of troubles.

To be continued…

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