The extent of fun in “normal weekends” include meeting/trying-to-meet my procrastination quota for these damned programming assignments (oh Dijkstra, when will we part ways?) until about midnight on Saturday when California’s infamous southern motorways clear up for the few who actively want to burn petrol and hoon their cars just a touch before returning home. Boring? Believe me, I know.
Enter stage right, Don Norman.
The other week, Design.UCSD, an on campus design focused organisation, chose to talk about poorly designed items or products. Although we mentioned in passing good design, crap design is just infinitely more entertaining to talk about. Throughout the evening, we might have brushed on the topic of Norman’s book, The Design of Everyday Things, for about 20 seconds. Thirty seconds after that 20 second mention, my first Amazon purchase in three months became official. A week later and one chapter into the book, and I’ve already began working towards becoming a product designer who does so little programming that the role of “artist” would be more accurate a role than software engineer.
While, I’m not intimately familiar with design of everyday things, I am slightly familiar with environmental design. Dr. Martin, of UC Berkeley’s Architecture department, did manage to teach me a thing or two about the way environment is meant to enhance the experience of the intended user while being unseen and unobserved, simply used. And while the topic of environmental design has stayed with me for all of two and a half years, the application of design theory and design thinking remains a mystery. The way a designer sees the world and the way an engineer sees the world are vastly different, and, I’m afraid, I’ve lost that human centred touch.
Although, I’m working on getting it back.