Design, to me, has always been an untangle-able thing from my humanness. Of course, design thinking necessitates human-centered processes of empathizing with the user or employing co-creative practices, but more so, design lends itself to an understanding. Methodology barely muffles an undercurrent of intentionality that pulls us from the noble (albeit stressfully freeform) expression of art, and into a calculated sort of comfort. Consequently, recognizing that intentionality in every other facet of our humanness is almost inevitable. How often does one find themself in a particularly poorly-planned supermarket, or merging onto a highway and wondering what the intention was, besides, perhaps, to hear another car horn or dodge another shopper in the store.
This is all to say that the pandemic and its shelter-in-place orders have forced a new sort of understanding onto me. Recognition shifted from the urban planner that used to land me in rush-hour traffic on my way home, to that of my own designed life. What processes I carry out daily and, while often not entirely intentionally, had designed for me not only a routine, but a manner of carrying myself through the world. Rushing out of meetings or class, always eager to get to the next, and the next, and the next; anticipating the commute, or the project, or the critique. Shelter-in-place required a slowing, and an uncomfortable amount of time spent still with myself.
All of those same methodologies that had aided me in prototyping healthcare apps, cultural probes, and research proposals led to a grander redesign of my own practices. Walks in nature, meditation, prayer, a FaceTime or Google Hangouts lunch date with friends. Creative blocks lifted naturally at work, collaboration was facilitated by the stillness that refilled me during off-time, and the realization that all of my routines could be chosen as intentionally as a stoplight or navigation bar in an app, tied my design mind even tighter to my humanness.
Reader, I cannot suppose to know the reception of a design and life philosophy, especially in a blog post. Perhaps it’s a call to action, to examine your thoughts and preconceptions, routines and habits. Perhaps it’s just a musing. But, the love of design brought you here, and maybe that love of the intentionality in our methodology is worthy of use in our own personal lives, and maybe for our suffering communities, too. Go inwards, and take what you know with you.