Call and response

A Reading Note

Take three chairs—a traditional Shaker chair, an Eames’ plywood chair, and Frank Gehry’s aptly-named wiggle chair—and ask yourself: why do we have three completely different solutions for the same problem? Perhaps because they are not solutions so much as responses:

The products of design are more negotiations of issues and responses to problems than absolute, fixed solutions, and this provides plenty of space for different takes and perspectives. Grouping the chairs together makes it evident that each design is an attempt to fill the need of sitting seen through the lens of each designer’s disposition. Their responses are a negotiation of the problem with its context, and the designers are a part of that context.

Chimero, The Shape of Design, page 75

So, rather than trying to solve a design problem, you can respond to it, bringing the full force of your experience and time and place to the fore. Turn that around, and it’s also a useful device for deciding what to spend your time on: does the work call out for someone like you?

Related books

The Shape of Design

Frank Chimero

Chimero’s meditation on design is thoughtful and lovely, a welcome refresher from the more logistical ethos that has been ascendent in recent years.