Archive for September 2011

TEDxBeirut, From limitation to inspiration

26 September, 2011 § 1

This post will not be about things I've learned at TEDxBeirut. The things I've learned are still raging in my mind and will definitely nor fit in one blog entry.

This is more about feelings/impressions TEDx has installed in me. I felt proud, proud of being Lebanese, proud of having a glimpse at Lebanese dreams coming to life. Lebanon is always perceived as an obstacle or rather an alibi for not achieving one's goals. Saturday's talks taught me otherwise. With enough faith, determination and perseverance, we can do it. Bassam Jalgha needed a 'oud' tuner and so he simply invented one. Ziad Abi Chaker fell in love with garbage and so he simply found a solution for it. Passion will get you there.

Still, what if being in the presence of so many inspiring people made me feel so much less inspiring? I don't know how many people react the same way I do to all of this but somehow it all makes me feel more helpless. Perhaps, this is my one step deeper towards hitting bottom and then digging my way up again. This is getting closer to limitation before finding inspiration.

One of my favorite talks was To Ted or Not To Ted. Mahmoud Yammout traces the pros and cons of Tedding. Is another fast soundbite enough to change one's perspective on things? He argues that the solution for a dilemma is not either/or but a way out of it, inviting a third subjective. I'm a very contradictive person by nature, I wander in the in-between of almost everything. It's the talk i felt I related to most.

But don't get me wrong. TEDxBeirut did not have a negative effect on me. This conflict I'm goind through is priceless. Every awakened feeling and triggered thought is priceless. The energy of the team behind TEDx was priceless. That is perhaps what touched me most. I've had the chance of being a small part of this team and I've learned so much about passion and dedication even from afar. So thank you team, for being you and for putting forth this wonderful experience!

You can still check out the saved live stream on TEDxBeirut's website, it's really worth going through the pain of endless buffering! My favorites were by Mahmoud Natout, Halim Madi and Ziad Abi Chaker. The separate talks should be online in a month time.

The questions that haunt me as a designer -1-

03 September, 2011 § 2

I’ve decided to add this new section to the blog to spark more discussions about what we do as designers and how we affect the world. So read below and let’s chat!

1: Do we design for the people or for peers?

It’s true, whenever we get a new project, our first step is to look closer into the target market and dedicate ourselves into luring it.

But I always find myself wondering whether people are really affected by the visual aesthetics of what we do. Do our efforts really matter? When your target market is as specific as an age group, you know your energy is not wasted, because it’s clear that kids will respond to more colors and cartoons and exclamation marks! But when the service/product you’re designing serves a broader audience, can you be sure of how sensitive these people are to design?

This question is most present when I see a poorly designed product/service doing wonders numbers wise. The people didn’t care about the visual brand but rather about what it really offers. And that’s fine by me! That’s even, ethically speaking, quite the perfect thing to happen. But it saddens me because it makes me all the more aware that I stress for nothing.

And on the other hand, one has to admit, that through the course of creating a brand, we designers are not only concerned with building loyalty to the brand but most importantly concerned with how it will look in our portfolios and how it will measure up to the work of designer peers.

In the race between form and function, functionality is always a priority both to the designer and the client. Functionality serves the people without their knowing, magazines made more entertaining to read, health brochures made more easy to understand, paper work made less painful to fill out. But when it comes to the form, nothing is certain.

What makes it even harder is that once you’re a designer you can never claim to be in a non-designer’s shoes. Texts you read will always be about kerning and leading before meaning.

So designers, do you fall into the designing for peers issue too? Would you risk your portfolio over a client’s needs or would you rather risk the success of a brand over peer recognition?

And people, how sensitive do you think you are to design? When you’re standing in front of a supermarket shelf do you pick one product over the other because of the way it looks? Is visual experience a factor when you choose a restaurant?

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