Sitting on my couch watching the visionary design documentary “Objectified” (seriously, check it out, and keep your damn mind open), I was struck by how many things in our world are touched by design. Everything from the cardboard flap on a Cheese Nips box to the volume knob on our computer speakers have been considered carefully and manufactured with the intent of meeting our needs and/or satisfying our wants.
My mind then considered, is there any way that we can apply design in our daily living? Of course we can, otherwise this would be a pretty short article. The concept is simple: take the principles of design and apply them to our daily actions and choices.
For example, a prominent concept in design is negative space. This almost paradoxical concept, that empty space deserves as much weight as space filled by text, is highly valued by designers and, unbeknownst to us, our brains. You see, when we see a clean, white desk, we begin to think immediately of what we could accomplish on that desk. When we see an empty calendar, we begin to consider what we could do on those unfilled days. The same goes for silence; when no one is talking, we consider what we might say.
This idea, that leaving space open can be beneficial, is a powerful one. In calm moments, TV off, no other noise, we begin to hear what we feel and what we desire. When we leave our days open, the world is full of possibility. People and things will want you to fill up that space, but don’t listen to them! Turn off the TV, let the sunshine in, and give yourself an afternoon here and there to figure out what you really want.
Another example of designing our lives: typography. When you see the American Apparel logo in glorious Helvetica (it is the greatest font of all time and I will equalize anyone who disagrees), we immediately think clean, fashionable, simple and elegance. When we see Coca-Cola’s classic script on a can, we think of tradition, fun times, bubbly sweetness, and happiness. The way in which words are expressed makes as great a difference as what we are expressing.
Apply this in your own life. The next time you go to say something in an email, a conversation, or whatever-medium-in-particular, think about what you are saying and who you want to say it to. Think about how your words could most benefit them and communicate your message. Consider your tone. All of these are the equivalent of utilizing typography to get your message across.
The list goes on, but what’s the fun in design without discovery? Think about how the graphic or physical elements of the products or brands you love affect you and consider, how can I design my life? Chances are pretty high that you’ll benefit, and those you interact with will benefit without others even realizing the cleverness of the choices you made.
Pretty cool huh?