In 2012, I gave a talk in Doha, Qatar at the inaugural TEDx: Education City event entitled Design and the Making of Meaning. In the five years since the talk aired, the video has travelled the globe, and was named one of the 50 best inspiration and motivational talks for creatives by Creative Boom, sharing the list with the likes of Neil Gaiman and JJ Abrams. I have revised and expanded upon the talk for a written audience in to order to address, augment, and clarify some of the ideas and issues raised in the original piece. The talk is now a stand-alone non-fiction essay that will be relevant to everyone from design professionals and educators, to anyone interested in creativity and the creative process.
The video is still available on YouTube.
Design is not merely a vocation but is also a way of being—of living ones life with respect to others and the myriad forms of understanding necessary within society. Designers attempt to render media with aesthetic appeal because all forms of communication (be it image, object or space) are important. We are largely invisible yet the hand of design is everywhere. This talk will discuss the mechanics of design thinking as a means to creating a world of practical creativity and sustainable problem solving. Design can help change the world and it can help save the world, but it takes understanding—not just heroes—to make this possible
Hopefully, above all else, I hope my talk inspires people. My intent is to help people to understand what it is that designers do (especially with regard to graphic design), because there is a perpetual air of misinterpretation about what it is designers do for a living. My goal is to talk the way I do to my students, using humor, experience and insight as a way to inform and educate about how meaning is made and why it is important. I cannot change someone’s life, but I can help them uncover the tools that will allow them to change and grow. The future needs creative thinkers and it starts with design.