How does design thinking drive me?
This field is the perfect combination of the systematic and the creative. Successful design should solve a problem, or set of problems, through creation. For this reason, I don’t believe in design for design’s sake, but that truly impactful design must have a purpose that goes beyond that of the individual designer.
Product design is such a unique field because it requires understanding of so many processes and disciplines: visual arts, communication, marketing, manufacturing, development, to name a few. The most fascinating part is taking all of these areas, melding them together, and putting them into the context of an actual human being with human wants and human tendencies.
How did the Peace Corps influence my design ethos?
I thought I would go to Africa to “find myself.” How cliché is that? When I moved to Lesotho to serve with the Peace Corps, I was passionate about becoming a product design professional; but, I thought for certain that Africa would take my dream, chew it up, spit it out, and hand me an application to an esteemed school of public health. What I came to find, however, is that my experience reinforced what I already knew myself: my strengths, my weaknesses, and what makes me tick. Instead of driving me towards a new path, Africa allowed me to keep my dream. Better yet, it gifted me a more refined world-view and a tenacity to create for good.
My time abroad has significantly influenced the way I view good design and its impact on individuals and societies. I’ve seen products fail that were purchased by families who saved for months but I’ve also seen something as simple as a wheelbarrow change a person’s life. In a way, Africa turned me into somewhat of a minimalist—I don’t believe that people need a lot of things, but rather, a few nice things that perform their function and stand the test of time.