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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Path to Success is Paved with Failure

I know I’ve been talking about the need to celebrate the “failures” that must be allowed to occur during the process of designing quite a bit lately in class. It’s necessary to do this as a means to help emerging designers learn to articulate just what it is about a particular combination of forms, or about the design of a specific array of type, or the assertion of a given color palette in a given context, that causes dissatisfaction.

Being able to speak and write well about what causes specific aspects of artifacts and systems that communication designers make to fail tends to be of great value when a conversation about design has to occur between a com designer and a group of people who have never set foot in a design classroom. The designer in this conversation has to be able to talk about “what’s not working and why” as a means to prophylactically limit potential problems with whatever design decisions are being proposed, and as a means to identify “what is working, by comparison.” I'll be giving a paper on this at a conference in Berlin next week—failure analysis has traditionally been a "hot topic" in design criticism whenever a major economy is in a downturn, and, just as it was in the mid 1930s and the early 1980s, so it is again.

The link below will take you to site that describes how analyzing failure can play an important role in helping designers to achieve more successful solutions. And—members of this blog community ought to be aware of Frog Design’s magazine Design Mind anyway, and—the site of the failure analysis being described here is about three miles from where I went to high school in Austin, but I digress...


—Michael g