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By Design

Been watching Netflix series related to people who design things as big and noticeable as buildings and as small and mundane as the typeface on the circular you throw away every week in the mail. Of the episodes, the one I expected to be the most tedious and uninspiring waste of time was the episode with Jonathan Hoefler and his team for “Typeface Design”. Thinking about skipping this one, imagine my surprise when the person dumb enough to marry me says, “Wowweeee whooopdie doo, I’ve really been looking forward to this one!!!!” She’s going to accuse me of exaggeration, but you had to be there. I remember thinking…maybe she really is dumb. A glance back at the screen reassures me this episode is about an office full of people designing letters and numbers. Given the drop-down menu on my computers, how many more freaking fonts do we need? I don’t know how I lived without Wingdings 18.

Surprise, surprise. Once again, it is I who was dumb. The challenges faced in making one of the ways we communicate appear to be not a big deal or discomforting was fascinating. The amount of effort to illicit emotional reaction from a printed banner or page once again made me step out of my daily routine and see something I had been surrounded by all along. See something that deepens my interaction and understanding of the world around me and those who take the time to craft it for one reason or another, to simplify or improve…or to irritate or manipulate. It’s one of the reasons photography has been such a boon to me. I have never seen the world as dispassionately or passively since picking up a camera. Dorothea Lange was right…“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

The whole thing left me thinking about a couple things.

  1. Did I really like the shoe episode too? Yes $^%#$ I did.
  2. How many things sweep past me everyday without being noticed or appreciated?
  3. How cool is it that people who have invested time in these things most of us ignore get a little recognition…although it seems many are doing just dandy in the career department.
  4. What things can I do in my career that might touch lives in subtle ways that make positive differences even if no one ever really notices?
  5. How could anyone ever think they have learned enough about enough things?!?

What are you missing right now. What might you not be missing in a minute to ten? This is a life of wonder if you’re paying attention.

Abstract: The Art of Design – See it Here.

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