“Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.” – Charles Eames
I was listening to an interview with designer Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich (www.devicq.com) and it just got me going! During the interview Debbie Millman (www.brainpickings.com) he said something truly enlightening. If the link below doesn’t want to play try this one: https://soundcloud.com/brainpicker/roberto-de-vicq-de-cumptich-on
I’ve talked with my clients numerous times about this. We are the ones finding things, problems if you will, that we care about and shine a light on it. Our job is to make people think and feel. Same goes for design. The only difference is in who’s posing the problem.
I had to listen to this a few times just to get the “Aaw, yeah! Preach it!” out of my system. Then I was reminded about an inside joke from, like, 10 years back.
Me and my cousin were hanging out and, as we often do, distorting words. I guess the topic was horror movies or something. He blurted out “Wankenstein’s Monster!” and we burst out laughing. No need to argue about the level of maturity there.
I was trying to convey the image I had in my head and said: “He created the monster so that he could have a wank”. This turned into: “He imagined the monster in his mind as not having the ability to wank. He felt sorry for it and had to create it in real life just so that it could!”.
Yeah, I still kind of smile at that one. Good times. =´)
What hit me was the parallel between what art is and what design is. Hang on, because this is going to get really stupid, really fast.
Let’s just say for arguments sake that one of the villagers had come up to Wankenstein’s castle one day and said something like: “Hey, i’m having trouble with my monster. He’s not masturbating like he should. Could you lend a hand?”. After getting slapped around for a while the villager would then say: “Well, that was a poor choice of words. I meant as in ‘come up with a viable solution’?”.
Then Wankenstein would, for a hefty fee, rig some kind of contraption to assist the monster with his self-abuse. That’s design for ya!
What he did, atleast in my filthy mind, was to create the problem in his own mind. We can safely assume that NO ONE else was thinking of a solution for that particular problem. That’s art for ya! I think?
So, what can we learn from Mr. de Vicq de Cumptich and the world of design in general?
We can start out by incorporating some of that language into our own work. Color, Shape, Texture and Space.
Let’s say you’re working on a song, you know the chords make you feel longing and that the lyrics should be about not being noticed by that girl or guy you’re interested in. It’s all abstract. You could use these things to help you get concrete with your idea.
Color is red. Shape is a hexagon with rounded corners. Texture is glass. Space is a corridor.
You know the old quote about John Lennon saying to George Martin to make his voice “sound like an orange”? It’s kind of like that. We’ve got these connotations in our mind that help us navigate the artistic landscape. That’s why synesthesia is a key part of it.
I’m not saying you have to have it inherently as some people do, we can learn to develop it.
I was talking to a group about how kids have different styles of learning (visual, auditory, reading/writing & kinesthetic) and that during my childhood there weren’t that many teachers around who understood that. They had their style and if you didn’t fit the mold, too bad.
I remembered that my mom has a knack for remembering things whether it’s sounds, visuals, reading/writing or kinesthetics. What I realized was that she chose activities that stimulated those senses. Some of her favorite activities are dancing, handicraft and crosswords. No wonder, together they trigger all four!
Personally, I seldom do activities that trigger my kinesthetic sense. Thinking back I rarely used it in my songwriting before learning about its value. If you’d like, just take a minute to think about what activities you enjoy and what senses are your strongest and what you could use more work on.
Back to what we were talking about. Red, hexagon with rounded corners, glass and corridor. If you write those down and everytime you get stuck just have a glance at that piece of paper you’ll shift your focus towards your senses instead of your intellect. It works kind of like an oblique card but with a more direct purpose of focusing your attention on things that you associate with the song.
I’ll just leave you with Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich’s full interview below! If Soundcloud is acting up you can find it at this link: https://soundcloud.com/designmatters/roberto-de-vicq